Building our Community Together

It has always been clear to me that building a great community requires meaningful input from the residents who make up that community and in Richmond Hill we recognize this fact. The sub title of our Strategic Plan is “Richmond Hill – Where People Come Together to Build our Community”. 
 
Council and our staff have reached out in the past to seek participation and input from citizens and are doing so presently. There are a number of initiatives underway, and a few about to begin, that will seek resident feedback. Contained in this e newsletter is information about how citizens can get involved in a number of these presently occurring and upcoming opportunities. 
 
For example, Richmond Hill Planning Staff and Council are beginning a process to review our Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw. This process has been titled Zone Richmond Hill. Input will be sought from the public related to this review which will ultimately lead to a new set of city wide zoning bylaws. Beginning shortly, and running roughly parallel to this process, will be a review of Richmond Hill’s Official Plan. The Official Plan process will begin in the New Year and I will be sure to report on opportunities for public input during that process in this e newsletter.
Our Parks Planning Staff is also currently reviewing plans for the revitalization of the Town Park in Ward 2 (behind the Elgin Barrow Arena). This is one of the original community parks in Richmond Hill, and in the past it served as the meeting place for many important Richmond Hill events including the Spring Fair. It was also the home ball park for the Championship Richmond Hill Dynes baseball teams. A public meeting will be held in November on the future revitalization of this important community space.
 
Our Environment Services staff have embarked on a comprehensive set of actions related to Richmond Hill’s response to Climate Change. This project is called Resilient Richmond Hill. Resilient Richmond Hill officially kicked off its public outreach phase at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts in early November. Information about this kick off event and how you can become involved is also contained below.
 
Winter has arrived earlier than most of us would prefer in Richmond Hill. However, given the reality of winter I wanted to update citizens on some important information related to Winter Snow Clearing Operations. Outlined below are changes to some rules and procedures related to the new Snow Windrow Clearing program approved by Council. It has always been important that residents understand rules such as parking regulations during a snow event, so that our Operations staff are not inhibited in their ability to effectively clear snow from the sidewalks, the roadway, and now the end of your driveway. There are also a number of other changes related to the new Snow Windrow clearing program that people need to know. All of this information is included below.
 
Finally, below are details of a meeting that I will be hosting in December to discuss a potential development application for a 12 storey building proposed at the north west corner of Brookside Road and Yonge Street. This area of the Ward has seen many development applications in the recent past, and this application is a new one to add to this list of buildings being proposed for the area. I would encourage residents to come out to this meeting, hear about the proposal, and express their views to the applicant, staff and myself.

Each year Council embarks on one of its many important tasks, the approval of Budgets. Council debates and passes two related but separate budgets each year in Richmond Hill. One budget is the Capital Budget which primarily deals with building infrastructure and facilities that we need to run our community. The other is the Operating Budget which deals with the day to day operations of the municipality. 

In the case of both budgets, it is important to remember that while budgets are often big, complex, and daunting number filled documents, they are simply a fiscal reflection of the community’s needs and values and outline how we must invest to meet these needs and build a great community in the process. 
 
These budgets outline how we will invest in items such as community centres and recreational programs, parks, open spaces and libraries that enrich our lives, fire and emergency services that we count on in times of need, and the the maintenance of roads, sewers, water delivery, and waste collection that are needed everyday but are sometimes taken for granted. All of these investments, and many more are foundational and need to be maintained into the future. 
 
Budget deliberations always include challenges related to keeping these investments up to date but sustainable, efficient, and relevant to our citizens, while also keeping the tax rate, that primarily pays for these investments, at an acceptable level for the community. Given the recent direction given to staff by Council to keep any increases to the Operating Budget to a maximum of 1%, I have no doubt there will be a significant number of difficult, often complicated and multifaceted decisions that Council will need to be make. 
 
So far in the overall budget process, Council has passed the Tariff and Fee Structure that will set out rates for “user pay” services in our community. Council has also discussed the Capital Budget and made recommendations for approval to the Council meeting scheduled for December 18th. The Operating Budget deliberations will begin on November 26th and will likely conclude in the winter with the ultimate approval of this budget.
 
For more information on this process please see below and also visit a well written summary of the budget process to date in the Liberal Newspaper at  https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/9666078-richmond-hill-eyes-1-cap-on-property-tax-increase-in-2020/
 
As always, I welcome your input during this important process. 
 
Sincerely,
David West 
Ward 4 Councillor Richmond Hill
Cell 416-346-3090
Office 905-771-2480
Banner Photo – Guess what this banner photo is – the answer, and a short article about it will be in the December e newsletter. (I’ll give you a hint – the photo was taken in York Region but not in Richmond Hill)