OMB Reform Motion and Municipality Committee
a. Council passed the motion that I brought forward to request that the Government of Ontario thoroughly review the land use appeals process conducted by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The motion requests that an improved process be developed for appeals, which recognizes and supports the rights of municipalities, like ours, to make decisions that adhere to municipally-approved Official Plans and local community needs and aspirations, reflected in those plans. Click here to see the text of this motion.
b. In addition to the effort above, I have been participating in a group representing municipalities from across the province that are also advocating for OMB reform. An OMB Summit will take place on May 14th, for Municipal Councillors to discuss reform and make recommendations to the Ontario Government. An online petition has been created to help with this effort. The petition can be accessed here, and the Facebook page can be accessed here. I am not in full agreement with the precise wording of the petition but I do believe that it is a good starting point, and I expect that the recommendations coming out of the OMB Summit will be a more precise motion that will benefit communities like Richmond Hill.
2. Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Awards
Each year the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce recognizes excellence in our businesses community. This year a number of local businesses were awarded a Business Achievement Award in recognition of excellence. I have always believed that it is important to a great community like ours to have a great business community. Congratulations to the winners!
Non-profit – 360 Kids
Young Entrepreneurs – Dr. Sarah Stock – Laserlight Chiropractic & Health Centre
Lifetime Achievement Award – Elizabeth Hill – Elizabeth Hill Consulting
1 to 9 Employees – Snap’d Richmond Hill
10 to 24 Employees – E.B. Box Company
25 to 45 Employees – emergiTEL Inc.
49 plus Employees – Maxium Financial Services
Mayor’s Award – Compugen Inc.
3. PFLAG Gala
For the third year in a row I was honoured to attend the PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) gala. This is an evening to celebrate the diversity that makes Richmond Hill the welcoming community that it is. It was good to see a number of my council colleagues also showing their support for this organization.
4. Richmond Hill Philharmonic (RHPO) Concert
Talented musicians clearly live among us! On Saturday, February 20th the Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra performed a concert celebrating “Movie Music”. The orchestra is made up of volunteer, mostly local musicians. They always put on a great performance. The concerts are held at our Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. (see below for details of their next performance)
5. Hill After Dark
Speaking of talented local musicians and artists. The Youth Action Committee (YAC) presented a performance on Saturday February 20th of talented young artists from our community. Music, visual art, and film making were a few of the artistic disciplines that were well represented during the performances at the Theatre. The YAC is a dynamic group of young people who provide many services to our Town icluding this opportunity to showcase young local talent.
6. Working Towards an Accessible Richmond Hill
Richmond Hill is committed to being an accessible community and is working towards removing barriers that prevent residents and visitors from accessing our programs, services and facilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005 requires municipalities to create a multi-year Accessibility Plan and to report on the progress of measures taken to make their services accessible. Richmond Hill’s 2013-2017 accessibility plan was approved by Council in February 2013. The Plan outlines key activities and initiatives that its departments are carrying out to make programs and services more accessible, such as implementing a new accessibility planning process, adopting a new Accessibility Policy, launching new accommodation procedures and revising current accessibility training offerings. People with disabilities are a significant and growing part of the population in Ontario. More than 15 per cent of Ontarians have a disability and this number will increase as the population ages. Moving forward, Richmond Hill will continue to meet the accessibility requirements outlined in both the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. To learn more, visit RichmondHill.ca/Accessibility.
7. Revitalizing Downtown
The effort to revitalize our Historic Downtown Village Core continues. As I have reported in past newsletters, Richmond Hill is currently seeking public input regarding our Downtown Secondary Plan. The Business Improvement Area Association also continues its work to market the Village Core while beautifying the area. I have received a number of concerns from residents over the years that work needs to be done on a number of fronts to “clean up” the area. One of the complaints I specifically receive is regarding sign bylaw infractions. Click here for a link to a recent article in the Richmond Hill Post relating to this issue.
8. Yonge St Subway Extension to Highway 7 – Update
Recently, regional council representatives from Richmond Hill and the rest of York Region travelled to Ottawa to talk about issues relating to our communities. Among these issues was the ongoing talks relating to the extension of the Yonge Subway to Highway 7. Thank you to Regional and Local Councillor Hogg for representing Richmond Hill during this delegation. Building a transit system commensurate with our growing population is an important issue for all York Region municipalities. Despite numerous calls by municipalities like ours, the commitment by the Federal and Provincial governments to fund this infrastructure seems to be a frustratingly long time coming!
9. Richmond Hill Museum Feasibility Study
At the People Plan Task Force (a committee of Council) on March 9th, members were presented with the results of a study that was commissioned in 2014 to consider the existing Heritage Services in the town and the needs for future services, including a museum. The study can be viewed by clicking here. Any comments on this study are appreciated, and can be directed to me at [email protected]. We have a proud history in Richmond Hill, and council will be soon asked to consider how we should best showcase this heritage. On the subject of Museums – see the article below about 2 great exhibits (From Logs to Bricks and Once Upon a Time) that are underway at our existing Heritage Centre/Museum, the Amos Wright House at 19 Church St N.
10. Environmental Initiatives in Richmond Hill
Council received a presentation from staff outlining the progress of two major environmental initiatives in Richmond Hill – the Environment Strategy, Greening the Hill and the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS). Some of the highlights of Greening the Hill implementation for 2015 include development of a five-year energy reduction plan for Town-owned facilities; initiation of a project to convert Richmond Hill’s outdoor lighting network to LED lighting; upgrades to the off-road trail network (Beaver Greenway and South Richvale Greenway); development and implementation of plans to protect the Town’s valleylands and improve the stormwater management program. In addition, through the 2015 Community Stewardship and Healthy Yards programs, 11,600 trees were planted in Richmond Hill with the help of funding partners, sponsors and community volunteers. In the presentation, staff also noted that Richmond Hill has successfully completed its third re-registration audit for its ISO 14001 EMS. ISO 14001 is an internationally recognized standard for Environment Management Systems. Richmond Hill’s EMS identifies business activities that affect the environment and sets out processes to minimize them. Since the EMS was first registered in 2006, the scope has expanded to include all business units with direct environmental impacts, including Environment & Infrastructure Services, Public Works Operations, Development Engineering, Fire & Emergency Services and Recreation & Culture. The goal of both the Environment Strategy and EMS is to provide a framework to protect, restore and enhance Richmond Hill’s natural environment.
11. There’s No Shortage of Cultural Opportunity in Richmond Hill
Council received a presentation from staff outlining Richmond Hill’s 2015 Cultural Plan achievements. Some of the highlights include the launch of the Community and Cultural Grant Program; the unveiling of the Terry Fox Tribute in Ransom Park; the launch of the Festivals & Events Strategy; and cultural youth events like Hill After Dark, Top of the Hill and NEON. In addition, Richmond Hill Cultural Icons premiered at the second annual Cultural Summit. The videos, which can be found at Youtube.com/TownRichmondHill, feature local icons, Jackie Richardson, the Good Brothers and the Royal Canadian Air Farce. Staff also outlined 2015 by the numbers, noting that more than 5,600 residents participated in arts, culture and heritage programs; 426 events took place at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts with 100,000 tickets issued to more than 85,000 patrons; and more than 125,000 people attended events such as Canada Day, Ribfest and more. The goal of the Cultural Plan is to enhance and promote cultural activity and creative expression within Richmond Hill between 2012 and 2022.
12. Celebrating Women’s Day In Richmond Hill
We celebrated Women’s Day by raising the flag with a group from Sandgate Women’s Shelter. Sandgate operates a shelter in Richmond Hill for women who have experienced domestic violence.
Thanks to the Sandgate staff for the important work they do for Richmond Hill.
13. Annual Youth Homeless Experience with 360 Kids – the 360 Experience
Another 360 Experience is over. Approximately 30 Community leaders, including myself volunteered to participate in a scenario that might be experienced by a homeless youth in our community. Some of the participants were sent to Holland Landing, some to Markham, some to Vaughan and some to downtown Toronto to find a shelter for the night. We all had a bus ticket and $6. As always it was an enlightening experience that helps us to understand the challenges that an estimated 300 youth face in York Region each night. Over the past three years I have participated in this event and it always strikes me that being a young person should never be about seeking shelter each night. Being a young person should be about growing, learning and figuring out your place in the world. I value the work that 360 kids does for homeless youth in our community.
To view the photos from the 2016 360 Expereince click here.
To view the photos from the 2015 360 Experience click here.
14. Dunlap Observatory Park
On February 22nd, the Town of Richmond Hill reached an agreement with Corsica Developments to receive the historic buildings at the Dunlap Observatory into Richmond Hill ownership. (When the farmhouse on the property known as Elms Lea is available the Town will be given the first right of refusal to acquire this building – it is occupied at the moment). This is an important decision as we move forward with the Dunlap Park Master Plan. This park will be a unique destination park for the residents of the Town and beyond. Much work is still to be done but the plans are able to move forward with a much greater deal of certainty now that the ownership of the buildings by the town has been solidified.
15. Richmond Hill Indoor Sports Facility
In late February Richmond Hill Council and staff celebrated the opening of the seasonal indoor soccer and recreation facility with members of the Richmond Hill and Oak Ridges Soccer Clubs. This facility was opened a number of months ago and provides a great place for indoor sports to be played in the winter months for our residents.
16. On a Lighter – More Feathery Note
One of Ward 4 Richmond Hill’s Internationally recognized residents is making a “splash” on the world stage. I am very proud to be his councillor! For the full story, as reported in the Liberal Newspaper, click here.