Despite a lot of misconceptions about Oshawa, the city has many festivals and events

Reporter: Matthew Jordan

Oshawa lacks culture, recreation, and community interaction, say students of Durham College and UOIT.
Students used words like “deadbeat” and “uninteresting” to describe experiences in Oshawa. The main concerns centered on the absence of culture, community interaction, and a lack of information regarding upcoming events. Students wanted the city to reflect their goals and inhibitions, a city that provides social, cultural, and recreational opportunity, and does not simply act as the host of their education.
On Oct. 29, Desmond Cole, a representative of Public Interest, a research firm hired by the city on contract to collect opinions from residents, was present to gather students’ thoughts and concerns on where the city needs to improve and how it could develop general appeal.
“What we specialize in doing is public outreach, public consultations, and research about different topics,” said Cole. “For this project we’ve done focus groups, surveys, and steering committees. That’s the kind of work that we do. We specialize in reaching out to the public, collecting their feedback about things, and organizing it in a way governments and organizations can understand.”
The city is currently undergoing cultural mapping, conducted by Greg Baeker and his team at Miller Dickinson Blais, a development company. This takes into account the city’s cultural assets — its parks and arenas, institutions, lakefront, historical sites and community centres.
“One of the main things I’m hearing is a need for awareness and better marketing of what’s happening in the city,” said Cole. “Most people tell us that there is a lot going on in Oshawa, but it’s hard to find out about it. People have expressed a desire to solve that, to figure out ways to advertise, whether it’s through the Internet, whether it’s through a new publication, or physical space being used better downtown or in other areas so that people actually have an opportunity to find out what’s going on and then try it.”
One thing a student mentioned in relation to that was the women’s lacrosse 2013 World Cup, which took place at the Civic fields and on campus over the summer, but happened almost unbeknownst to the average resident. There was also a high demand for Oshawa to offer more ethnocentric services, not only in the form of commodities, but through events and festivals.
“When we got into the round tables and started talking, multiculturalism came up over and over again. Lots of people wanted to talk about it and to say it’s important; it’s important that we celebrate. Even if there is only a small community from a certain group in Oshawa, it’s important that people know, and celebrate that, and make it a part of the mainstream culture,” said Cole.
The Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan is part of a provincial initiative to revitalize communities in Ontario. The project began in May 2013 and is expected to conclude in March 2014.