Our American neighbours are making a huge decision at the polls soon, but here in Oshawa you can make your voice heard, too.
The city’s 2017 budget process is now underway and officials are calling on the community to get involved. City Hall has posted a brief, four-question survey online for residents to do just that. All you need to do is register using your postal code and email address, to verify that you live within city limits.
Every year the city uses a share of property tax dollars to make improvements and changes within the community. For every dollar paid in municipal taxes, roughly 41 cents goes to Durham Region for expenses such as transit and 18 cents goes to local school boards.
“It takes a lot,” says city councillor Amy McQuaid-England, a former president of Durham College and UOIT’s Student Association. “It’s a multi-million dollar budget. The survey was something that I had championed to try and get more involvement from residents in the budgeting process.”
In 2016, the city has an operating budget exceeding $134 million.
At a recent city council meeting, city departments discussed the need for the distribution of funds for several projects. These range from the expansion of off-leash dog parks within the city to bigger jobs, such as repairs to the multi-storey parking garage on Mary Street (by the Tribute Communities Centre, home of the Oshawa Generals).
A new video scoreboard was installed at the arena this summer which cost the city more than $760,000. With the Generals setting their sights on a bid to host the 2018 Memorial Cup, the city has also approved an additional $200,000 to help with working towards that goal.
UOIT is also looking to be included in the city’s budget plans. The school is currently in the process of expanding into 380 acres of land that previously belonged to Windfields Farms. With the construction of the Software and Informatics Research Centre (SIRC) underway and another building coming soon, there are currently plans to ask for $25 million from the region, with some of that money coming from the city of Oshawa.
City Council meets on Dec. 12 for a presentation of the proposed budget for next year.
“I would encourage students to get involved,” says McQuaid-England, “you don’t need to be an expert to know where you want your money to go.”
Now more than ever it’s important for students to raise their voice and tell the city where they want to see their tax dollars go. Those in the area with a minute or two can spare can head over to ConnectOshawa.ca before Nov. 14 to find the survey.