Council News and Highlights

Richmond Hill Board of Trade Annual General Meeting

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The Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce has changed its name and will now be known as the Richmond Hill Board of Trade. I recently attended the Annual General Meeting of the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce where the Board of Directors for the new term was sworn in. The new Chair of the Board is Opal Rowe. I wish her and her colleagues best wishes in their new term. I have been a proud member of this great local business organization for many years. They are truly the Voice of Business in Richmond Hill.

OMB Reform Municipal Leaders Summit – Recommendations Report

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Between the winter of 2015 and August 2015 a group of councillors from across the GTA (including myself and Councillor Cilevitz, from Richmond Hill)  have been meeting to discuss the challenges that the current Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has presented for municpalities in Ontario.

Developers in Ontario have the right to appeal a decision of Council to the OMB and these appeals have frequently resulted in a local council’s decision being modified or overturned. OMB rulings like this have resulted in developments that is not consistent with a municipality’s Official Plan.

It is a belief that is shared by many people in Ontario, that there is an urgent need to reform the OMB.  In the spring of 2015 our OMB working group hosted a Summit attended by municipal leaders from across Ontario, that ultimately brought forward a list of recommendations that was presented to the Association of Ontario Municipalities Conference, and to the Ontario Government, for their consideration. To read the full text of the report and also a speech that the Minister of Municipal Affairs made at the conference please visit https://davidwest-richmondhill.ca/?p=1249&preview=true. In this speech the Minister acknowledges the work that our group has done and also the need for OMB reform as was outlined in our report.

I am proud of the work that our group has done in adding a strong voice to encourage the Ontario government to reform the OMB so that local planning decisions made by duly elected councils are respected.

Greening the Hill at the Ward 4 BBQ – August 23, 2016

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Thank you to all residents who stopped by the Town’s Greening the Hill information booth at this year’s Ward 4 BBQ! We hope you played a game with us, won a prize, and learned more about Richmond Hill’s environment. We look forward to seeing you again next year!

Civic Precinct – Moving Richmond Hill’s Town Hall

Council convened a special Council meeting earlier this month to continue the discussions regarding moving the Town Offices from 225 East Beaver Creek to a piece of land beside the Central Library, at the corner of Major Mackenzie and Yonge St. The plan includes a new civic building, a small expansion to the Central Library, a new Central Library drop off area, underground parking for 660 vehicles, an amphitheatre, a public square, a skating rink/reflecting pool, pedestrian plazas, and landscaping throughout the site. The Civic Precint (as the area is known) is designed to act as a place for civic business, but also a place that people can gather as a  community.

Various similar versions of this plan have been discussed by previous councils since the Town Hall was moved from the Village Core to its present location. This project represents the largest project ever undertaken by the town, and as such, many more discussions will need to take place as Council and staff scope the project and ensure that the project brings maximum value to the community. Please stay tuned for information as this process continues. For a good summary in of this story in the Liberal Newspaper please visit www.yorkregion.com/news-story/6848589-richmond-hill-votes-to-build-new-civic-centre-gathering-place-downtown/

Richmond Hill wins Unprecedented fight against the OMB and Gains Parkland for All

In a landmark ruling on September 7th, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that Richmond Hill has the right to determine the rate of parkland dedication it receives from developers within the limits set by the Planning Act. The Court noted that the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) exceeded its mandate and was not reasonable in its January 2015 decision.

Last year the OMB imposed a cap on how much parkland Richmond Hill could receive through the development process. This cap limited Richmond Hill’s ability to provide enough parkland to meet the needs of a growing population.

“This case was the epitome of the OMB overstepping its bounds,” said Mayor Dave Barrow. “This is a jurisdiction that the OMB had no right to be in. And yesterday the Divisional Court agreed with Richmond Hill.”

Municipalities including Markham, Mississauga, Oakville and Vaughan supported Richmond Hill’s appeal because they recognize that Richmond Hill’s fight was a matter of broad public consequence.

 “Richmond Hill is proud to be at the forefront of this winning appeal,” said Mayor Barrow. “This is the right step forward for municipalities. We know our communities best.”

The Court concluded that there are limits to the authority, or reach, of the OMB and stated that the OMB bestowed a role onto itself that the legislature clearly intended municipalities would perform.

The decision reaffirms the role of municipalities and their ability to understand and respond to the needs of the community and to plan for their future and this includes securing valuable park spaces that support healthy lifestyles and enhance the quality of life for residents.

Backgrounder – In July of 2010, Richmond Hill Council adopted a new Official Plan that provided for park dedication of 5 percent of the land proposed for development or 1 hectare of land for each 300 dwelling units proposed, or the cash equivalent.

On April 22, 2013, the Richmond Hill Parks Plan was passed to determine the need for parkland over the next 20 years through an extensive public consultation process. At the same time, a Parkland Dedication By-law was passed to help ensure enough parkland is available to the community.

Developers disputed the Parkland policies of the Official Plan to the Ontario Municipal Board where the Board decided to set a different rate and cap the maximum amount of parkland or cash-in-lieu that Richmond Hill would receive from developers. The Board decided to cap the dedication rate at 25% of the area of the development or the equivalent cash-in-lieu. That decision would affect Richmond Hill’s ability to obtain the necessary parkland needed to serve its growing community.

Before the OMB’s decision could be appealed, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice needed to determine whether Richmond Hill had the grounds to do so. This decision was rendered on April 19, 2016 whereby the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that Richmond Hill may appeal the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decision regarding parkland dedication in its Official Plan.

This ruling paved the way for the appeal that rendered the decision yesterday which overturned the OMB ruling and determined that the matter be remitted back to the Board for its determination in accordance with the reasons outlined in the court decision.

For more information please visit https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/6844891-richmond-hill-wins-landmark-parkland-fight/