|This section presents a brief outline of some key issues that will be, or have been, discussed at Council over the past month. More information can be found by clicking on links to other information sources like news articles, my website, and the Town’s website. Please also feel free to visit the Town website to view videos of past council meetings. These videos can be found by visiting https://calendar.richmondhill.ca/default/Month, then clicking on the relevant meeting date, and then scrolling to the bottom of the page to view the archived video for the meeting.
1. Bill 66 and its Potential Impacts on the Oak Ridges Moraine
The protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine is a very important issue for residents of Richmond Hill today. Preserving this natural feature was also equally important for residents in the past when the fight to save the Moraine from development originally took place, right here in Richmond Hill.
The provincial government’s recent introduction of Bill 66 has opened up the discussion about allowing municipalities to approve development on these protected lands. At this point it is not clear what impacts this legislation might have in Richmond Hill. I remain concerned about this issue and in December introduced a motion to ask staff to gather information, so Council could make an official Council comment to the Provincial Government related to concerns that we might have in Richmond Hill.
Unfortunately this motion was voted down by Council with almost no discussion. I am quite disappointed because I believe we have a stewardship obligation in Richmond Hill to do what we can to protect our environment. Given that this motion was rejected for consideration by Richmond Hill Council, we will not have an opportunity to comment officially as a council, and the public will not have a proper municipal forum to express their input to Council on this matter. I am hopeful however that Richmond Hill and Region of York staff will still provide technical comments to the province as a part of their duties.
The public can still provide comment to the province until January 20th. Included below is an article outlining the steps that can be taken to provide citizen comment to the province.
Link to related Liberal Newspaper Articles – https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/9089086-greenbelt-or-street-names-which-is-more-important-to-richmond-hill-/ and https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/9124895-bill-66-cutting-red-tape-or-harming-the-environment-/
Click here to view my motion
2. Motion to Reduce Parkland Cash in Lieu Fees
In December, a motion was put forth by a member of Council to drastically reduce the amount of money the Town collects from developers when high-rise buildings are built. This money is used specifically to pay for parkland revitalization and parkland purchases (called Parkland Cash in Lieu). These funds are intended to help us maintain the amount, and quality, of our parklands as we grow.
As more people move to our community we will need more green space and amenities to accommodate this growth. In fact the Town recently passed a Parks Plan that outlines how we will grow our park space as our community grows. The Parkland Cash in Lieu, not the tax rate, would be the primary source of funding identified in the Parks Plan to pay for any parkland acquisition and park revitalization, so it is important that we collect enough money from growth to pay for growth.
I have serious concerns about this motion given that we are scheduled, over the next 10 years, to be collecting in the neighbourhood of $40M in Parkland Cash in Lieu for this purpose. A shortfall in this funding source will mean that we will need to do without new parkland and revitalizing of older parks, or pay for it from tax revenue and I do not believe this is an acceptable situation. On January 21st a report from staff on the implications of this motion will be presented to Committee of the Whole.
To view the full motion click here.
The following article appeared in the January 30 edition of Novae Res Urbis GreaterToronto & Hamilton Area.
“Posted with permission of the publisher of NRU Publishing Inc. Original article first appeared in Novae Res Urbis – GTHA Edition, Vol. 22, No. 5, Wednesday, January 30, 2019.”
A member of Council put forward a motion for our Official Plan and Downtown Secondary Plan to allow for increased density in the Village Core area of Richmond Hill. This motion also suggested that the connected laneways and mews and courtyards that are embedded in the Downtown Secondary plan also be reconsidered and possibly eliminated.
The connected laneways embedded in this plan are an important part of the overall plan and are necessary to provide sufficient access, parking, walkability, and traffic permeability in the Village Core as the area becomes revitalized under the plan.
I have serious concerns about this member motion because I believe that while some Village Core landowners object to parts of the approved Downtown Secondary Plan, the area remains a difficult area to redevelop given the constraints posed by the need to protect established neighbours on both sides of Yonge Street that must not be allowed to be negatively impacted by density increases. Further, removing laneways and decreasing the pedestrian and vehicular permiability in the area can cause increased infiltration of traffic on local neighbourhood streets. While the Downtown Secondary Plan is not perfect I believe that the best approach is to work with landowners to find a solution rather than the more broad approach proposed in this motion.
I look forward to the staff report that will be prepared related to the implications of this motion. The report will be presented to Council on January 21st.
To view the full motion click here
4. Important Capital and Operating Budget Dates
The following are the dates for the Budget Committee of the Whole meetings which begin at 1:00 p.m. in Council Chambers. As always, citizen input is welcome and appreciated. Please feel free to contact me for any input to the budget process.
Tuesday January 22
Tuesday January 29 (if necessary)
To view the 2019 Capital Budget and Forcast click here.
2019 Operating Budget
Tuesday February 12
Tuesday February 19
Tuesday February 26
Click here to visit the Town’s Website RichmondHill.ca/Budget