A September Like No Other

September is traditionally a time when we get back to work and get back to school after a enjoying a summer break. In many ways this September is no different as children return to school and parents get back to work. However I think we will all agree that things are not the same this September because of COVID-19.
For Richmond Hill’s part a number of municipal facilities in Richmond Hill have now re-opened after the shutdown in March, and more are opening soon. Limited recreation programs were offered in the summer and more are being added while adhering to all public health best practices and protocols (see below for more detail). All of our attention must be firmly focussed on practicing all Public Health protocols including physical distancing, proper and frequent handwashing and wearing a mask when physical distancing is a challenge, to name a few. Businesses and schools are also opening up and these Public Health protocols will be just as important in those settings as well. While our businesses and recreational activities have re-opened to a large degree, it is very important that we all remain vigilant to avoid Ontario’s infection numbers rising to unmanageable levels in the fall and winter.
We have collectively made progress on keeping infections numbers low over the late spring and summer, and I am very proud of the front line and emergency staff, as well as our municipal staff who have continued to provide important services to our residents as we have navigated through these challenging times since March. I am also proud of the Richmond Hill community who has come together in so many ways and helped each other during these times. I have no doubt we are not out of the woods yet but I am confident that we are prepared for the challenges ahead if we continue to work together.
Richmond Hill Council resumes regular Council meetings starting on September 9th and, as always I will report on Council activities and decisions in this e newsletter. Of note this month, a controversial development application for a 28 storey building on Yonge St. will be heard at a Council Public Meeting on September 23rd (details below). I would encourage all residents of the area and beyond to feel free to express opinions to Council on this application. I believe the height and density currently proposed is too much for the area, is well above the limits laid out in the Official Plan, and would set a troubling precedent if approved. However it is important that residents let Council know their thoughts, and the Council Public Meeting is one of the most appropriate times to do so. Details are contained below about how the public can be involved at the Council Public Meeting.
Council has opted to produce a Strategic Plan that will be in effect until the end of this Council Term. As a part of this process there will be an opportunity for the community to make their views known on this subject. I would very much encourage citizens to take the survey that can be found at  https://www.richmondhill.ca/en/find-or-learn-about/Strategic-Plan.aspx. I would also encourage everyone to use the comments options in the survey to add any other detail or input that you might feel is appropriate. Finally the Strategic Plan will come to Council in October and I would also encourage residents to provide input on the draft final plan when that time comes (I will report the date and links to any final draft plan in next month’s e newsletter). The feedback will be important to myself and the rest of Council as we develop this plan (see details below).
Finally during this very unusual summer I was pleased to be able to host the Councillor David West Monarch Tagging Challenge. We were not able to come together like we normally would but many residents, young and old, spent time in their own homes raising Monarch Butterflies from the caterpillar stage to maturity as a butterfly. Before these butterflies were released the Tagging Team members applied a tiny tag to the Monarch’s wing so that scientists from Monarch Watch can use this data to study, and ultimately help the Monarchs as they migrate to Mexico for the winter. The data we collected is one way that we can individually help and take positive action to save this iconic species. I want to thank all that participated and I look forward to hosting this same program with even more Richmond Hill residents next year.
I always welcome a call or an email from anyone if they have any comments, questions or concerns. My email is david.west@richmondhill.ca and my mobile phone number is 416-346-3090. I wish everyone all the best, and look forward to being able to speak to residents face to face soon!
Banner Photo – A monarch Butterfly appreciating the Millenium Garden at Mill Pond Park – Photo courtesy of Ward 4 Resident Chris Robart