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Thread: Oshawa, or do mega projects ever have their intended effect?

  1. #1
    Member
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    Oshawa, or do mega projects ever have their intended effect?

    A big new Regional Court House is currently under construction in downtown Oshawa. It's located around the corner and down the street from the GM Centre arena that opened last year as a sport and entertainment venue.
    Not far away is a big, fancy YMCA Centre that was built maybe ten years ago.
    Between the Y and the Arena there's a state-of-the-art-at-the-time parking garage that was built maybe 15 years ago.
    Across the street from the parking garage is the city's major clinic which is even older than that.

    All around are empty shops.

    The parking lot is mostly empty, the YMCA is in disrepair and the GM Centre has ZERO events booked for June, July and August. Alice Cooper is coming in October though.

    Now, of course every city is different, and Oshawa is experiencing some major employment issues right now, but do projects like this ever have the desired effect of revitalizing the dying downtowns of old industrial towns?
    What else has to be done in conjunction with building venues and employment projects?
    Thoughts? Precedents?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    "Mega Projects?"

    I do not know the details of Oshawa's recent economic history, nor of Oshawa's immediate hinterland, so this specific case is difficult to comment on. But....

    presumably some kind of study was done prior to building the YMCA, the car park and the Arena to convince financiers that the projects were viable? What went wrong? I can understand (though don't agree with) public financial support to the arena, but surely the YMCA would be a commercial venture? Was the car park built with private or public money?

    As for the Court House, this is an entirely different kettle of fish. Presumably it is being built to meet a public need, rather than to change the economic fortunes of Oshawa. And is building a nice big court house really a mega-project? I admit that my perspective is biased, as I am sitting in Cairo where mega-projects mean building a new city for 500 000 inhabitants from scratch, in the desert. Here these mega-projects certainly reach many (but usually not all) of their intended goals.

    I expect Oshawa has far more fundamental, economic structural, issues to deal with, and until deeper analyses of these, and the niche opportunities on the regional scale identified, you will continue to have failing projects. But then are you implying by reference to the downtown, that the suburbs are doing OK?

    Believe it or not, our local Egyptian paper had an article today on Ontario's employmet woes, and the inability of either the Provincial or Federal Govenments to get to grips with them. The author refered to closing GM plants, and suggested (a little naively I thought) that the real answer lay in making thousands of buses instead of thousands of cars in these plants. I guess Oshawa is part of this issue.

  3. #3
    Special projects can spark new development and positive change, but they can't work in an environment that is overwhelming problematic. The best projects build on local strengths, tap into positive market trends and involve local people in developing realistic plans. The worst are "off the shelf" approaches that plop down projects unconnected to their surroundings.

    A courthouse is really not a megaproject, even in a small community. And its hard to think that a courthouse is a "failure". Are there no trials?

    As for your entertainment center, it may be to small, under a bad management scheme, have too much competition from surrounding venues, may be too big for the area etc. That is probably the result of bad planning or management.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Double Post, sorry mods
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MattAlexander View post
    A big new Regional Court House is currently under construction in downtown Oshawa.
    All around are empty shops.

    The parking lot is mostly empty, the YMCA is in disrepair and the GM Centre has ZERO events booked for June, July and August. Alice Cooper is coming in October though.

    Thoughts? Precedents?

    Detroit is a near carbon copy of this. No events in some venues for months at a time. Having Ford Field and Comerica Park right next to each other however mitigates this somewhat. A brand new Y is close by, with a satalite branch in the GM HQ building. Retail never followed, with the exception of a few bars and restraunts. I think that this is par for the course for old industrial cities. Toledo and Cleveland show a similar pattern and to a lesser extent so does Gary. Sadly, they lack the density of population to compete with the areas that are not as close into the factories. With the factories employing less every year due to new efficiencies, and the housing base eroding with the decrease in jobs and lack of investment in the infrastructure the areas just get worse in terms of being able to sustain retail. 30 to 40 years ago, these venues were moving to the peripheries of the city to take advantage of the cheap land. Now that the land around them is not so cheap, they are returning to the Cities as the Cities have a much better transportation infrastructure.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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