I have been a resident of Richmond Hill for most of my life. I have watched Richmond Hill grow from a community with a relatively small population, with lots of open green space, to a community that is much larger, more culturally diverse, and more urban in flavour. I have always had a deep pride and love for my community, and I am equally proud of our town today. Having said that, we face many challenges in our “growing up”, and these challenges have changed over the years.
I chose to locate my home and my family business in Richmond Hill 23 years ago because I felt that it was one of the greatest communities in Ontario in which to work and raise a family. West Photo is our family business and we have served thousands of residents in our community for over 30 years. Through my occupation as a photographer, I have had the pleasure to get to know many fellow Richmond Hill residents. This has given me an excellent perspective regarding what we all value as a community.
Besides being a former teacher, I am a father, husband and volunteer for many organizations (see resume below). I have made a conscious decision to be an actively engaged citizen, and being the appointed interim Ward 4 Councilor is only the latest manifestation of this decision. Whenever I have seen a community need to be filled, I have always been willing to step in and do my part. My volunteer life has shaped my decisions on issues that have come before council. I have been able to see issues from a resident’s point of view and also from the point of view of the business community. My commitment to Richmond Hill has been evolving for many years but. my goal has always been to do what I can to make this the best community it can be.
Council has made some wise decisions in Richmond Hill over the years:
- We have invested in our community by having a good variety of recreation centres. These centres provide our citizens with a broad range and choice of recreational activities – from figure skating, hockey, ringette, and bocce, to walking, cycling, and much more.
- We have invested in a great theatre, world class sports facilities, walking trails and fitness centres.
- Our core services, like fire and emergency services, all the way to waste and recycling collection are delivered in an efficient manner.
- We have a great range of natural spaces and parks and our recently completed Parks Plan will guide park development in the future.
- We have worked to protect our historic buildings. These buildings are a reflection of our rich history.
- We have a recently completed Cultural Plan that will guide us in decisions relating to culture and the arts.
I am proud of our investments, but we are not finished. Needs of the community change over time, and striving for the most cost efficient delivery of services that are important and meaningful to residents is a constant task that councilors must undertake.
At the same time council must work to maintain a healthy financial position for our Town, as they have in the past. I fully intend to work hard to ensure council makes responsible decisions while managing our tax revenue needs:
- providing the services and facilities that make Richmond Hill a great Town
- recognizing financial waste where it exists and at the same time recognizing money well spent for the benefit of our community
People in Richmond Hill deserve excellent municipal services. It is a key role of council to manage our finances so important services can be delivered in the most appropriate, efficient and cost effective manner. It is important to get all of these decisions “right”. I am committed to this goal and committed to improving in areas where improvement is needed.
Richmond Hill has also invested in well-planned communities that offer a wide range of choice for people. I believe there is still more work to be done. There are many issues we face as a town now and in the future such as :
- transportation and traffic congestion
- wise and efficient development of our employment lands
- re-development of our retail employment lands (including the revitalization of our Historic Downtown Core)
- management of new infill residential developments within existing residential areas
- the wise and responsible management of our natural areas
- the need for local businesses and citizens to be able to cut the unnecessary red tape in their interactions with the town.
How Council responds to all of these issues will shape Richmond Hill in the years to come so it is crucial that we get these decisions “right”. I intend to provide leadership in this area while working as a team with the rest of council. Our town has faced pressures in the past and will face pressures in the future, but a council that communicates well, engages the citizens, listens to resident’s concerns and finds innovative solutions is vitally important. This is what I want to achieve for my community.