Oshawa does not have the greatest reputation, especially in the media.
According to a Vice article published last year, Oshawa is a “gloomy, quasi-industrial town near Toronto.” The novel the article is reporting on, Waste by Andrew F. Sullivan, gives an even less appealing image of the city. It describes skinheads and drug dealers accompanied by exotic pets infesting the ‘Shwa.
In an article on Raisethehammer.com, writer Ben Bull says Oshawa is “not a place you will live by choice.” According to a quotation he pulls from the Toronto Star’s urban affairs writer Christopher Hume, Oshawa is
“Locked into a mentality of self-destruction, it has allowed itself to ossify. Its collective imagination, like its self-respect, has dried up.”
But does this city deserve such a bad rep? The statistics say no.
According to Numbeo, a user-contributed website that compares communities in terms of cost of living and safety, the level of lethal and non-lethal crime in Oshawa is low (38.33/100), just below the national average of moderate (39.15/100)).
Durham police do launch operations to limit the mediocre crime level before it gets higher. For example, on March 5th, 500 Durham Region police and Neighbourhood Watch volunteers started a door-to-door campaign to warn residents about a recent spike in property crimes and how to protect themselves.
Oshawa’s apparent poverty in comparison to the rest of the country is simply not true. According to a 2014 census published by Statistics Canada, Oshawa’s average household income is $89,430, surpassing the national average at $78,870.
As of 2013, 19 per cent of children in Canada lived below the poverty line, but 11 per cent of children in Durham live below the poverty line.
The school system is helping these children from low-income families with the 2013 “Make a Difference” campaign in 2013. Its goal is to assist the children in the Durham District School Board living in low-income families with access to nutritious food, learning programs, dental care, vision care and other things necessary for healthy development.
Of course, there are issues with this city.
Numbeo shows the safety level walking at night in Oshawa is moderate at 41.67, which is below the national average at 55.34.
There are some morbid examples of crime, such as the 29-year-old Ajax woman who was stopped from drowning her three-year-old son in February. Another example is the murder of Cotie Weekley that left a three-year old girl orphaned on January 23rd. This was the second homicide in Oshawa for 2017.
But the facts show Oshawa is not the dreary, crime-riddled place described in Waste.
Oshawa City Council has launched numerous projects to support businesses and infrastructure development, which will create more job opportunities and discourage crime.
Some of these are the Brownfields Renaissance Community Improvement Plan, which according to Oshawa’s municipal website, seeks to encourage the rehabilitation and reuse of contaminated lands through study grants, tax cancelations and redevelopment grants.
There is also the Simcoe Street South Community Improvement Plan, designed to help property owners finance building façade upgrades by giving interest-free loans.
The city’s reputation is not deserved and there are numerous programs working to ameliorate the issues we do have. The citizens of Oshawa should take civic pride in their city and do their part in helping to improve its image.
Don’t be ashamed of living in the comparatively clean, low-crime ‘Schwa. And while here, be kind and don’t litter.