Council News and Highlights

ichmond Hill Moves Forward with Downtown Revitalization

To enhance the vision for Richmond Hill’s downtown area and unlock the potential for the downtown as the civic heart of the community, Richmond Hill Council adopted the Downtown Local Centre Secondary Plan. 

The Downtown Local Centre Secondary Plan area is bounded by Harding Boulevard in the south and Levendale Road in the north, including properties on the east and west sides of Yonge Street. The Downtown Local Centre Secondary Plan further articulates the policies of the Official Plan and will help guide future development in this area and build on its historical characteristics and strengths.

This Plan is the first step to implementing the vision for a vibrant downtown area, providing direction to encourage mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, transit-supportive, sustainable redevelopment. The Plan will also establish public realm policies to guide the creation of parks and urban squares, urban plazas, a linked system of courtyards and streetscapes to enhance pedestrian connections within Richmond Hill’s downtown.

The comments received through the written and verbal submissions at the Wednesday, February 3, 2016 Council Public Meeting, the web-based comment period, and the various meetings between staff and stakeholders, were considered by staff when finalizing this Secondary Plan for Council adoption. The implementation of this Plan will ensure that Richmond Hill’s downtown continues to be a place where people of all ages can live, work and play. 

Richmond Hill’s Vibrant Community Continues to Thrive

Now in its fifth year of implementation, Council received a presentation from staff outlining Richmond Hill’s most recent cultural achievements. The presentation highlighted the wide variety of projects and initiatives undertaken by staff, including the pilot Sidewalk Poetry initiative, the Museum Feasibility Study, a Digital Storytelling Workshop, the third annual Cultural Summit, and mentoring the Council for Richmond Hill Emerging Artists and Teen Expression (CREATE) group.

In addition, the Community and Cultural Grant Program provided support to 19 community and cultural organizations and individual artists whose work supported a more vibrant Richmond Hill. The goal of the Cultural Plan is to enhance and promote cultural activity and creative expression within Richmond Hill between 2012 and 2022.

There are five goals that frame the Cultural Plan: 1. demonstrated leadership, 2. a dynamic cultural centre, 3. an inclusive cultural community, 4. places and spaces for culture, and 5. a celebrated story. The outcomes of the Plan’s implementation help create a more vibrant Richmond Hill by respecting the past, developing a sense of identity and place, and looking to the future. It also provides opportunities and places for people to connect and get involved in their community. For more information about the Cultural Plan, visit RichmondHill.ca/CulturalPlan.

Richmond Hill One Step Closer to a People Place in the Centre of Town

The Civic Precinct project – the creation of a People Place at the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Major Mackenzie Drive – moved another step forward at a Special Council meeting on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. Council approved the financial plan, governance structure and staffing requirements for the project, which will be an all-season community space with new municipal offices, an expanded Central Library and public gathering areas for the community.

The current municipal offices at 225 East Beaver Creek Road are expected to exceed capacity by 2023. The Civic Precinct Project will move local government to the centre of Richmond Hill and provide the capacity for future growth to serve residents. It is also expected to be a catalyst for downtown revitalization, since it provides a destination and a workplace that will draw hundreds of people to the downtown every day.

Through numerous public consultations, including the visioning process conducted in 2012, the residents of Richmond Hill made it clear that a central gathering space is needed for the community. The project includes a public square, amphitheatre, pedestrian plazas, skating rink/reflecting pool, underground parking and a children’s garden.

The nine-year project will begin with Richmond Hill hiring the expertise required to manage all aspects of the project, followed by a functional planning exercise to determine the requirements and uses for the space and the new municipal building, site and building design. The construction phase of the Civic Precinct project is expected to take three years and is projected to be completed in 2026.

The financial plan states an estimated project cost of $233 million inclusive of inflation over the nine-year timeframe. Richmond Hill has funding in place for approximately 80 per cent of the cost through development charges, federal gas tax grants and other reserve funds. The approved financial plan calls for the remaining $45 million to be funded through debt financing. This loan will be paid back over 25 years. 

Nowruz Celebrations at Richmond Green

A “hot” time was delivered in Richmond Hill on Monday March 20th, with Nowruz celebrations featuring a Fire Festival at Richmond Green. 

Many of us in attendance jumped over the fire to welcome the coming of a New Year and “symbolically leave any misfortunes of the passing year and embrace the new year with freshness and health.”

Richmond Hill Honours the 2017 Sports Champion Award Winners

On Thursday, March 23rd, Richmond Hill Council, staff and members of the community came together to celebrate the special achievements of seven individual athletes and one team, all of whom made contributions in support of sports excellence at the 2017 Richmond Hill Sports Awards ceremony.

This year, Richmond Hill presented awards to one relay swim team and seven individual athletes in the sports of sprint kayaking, golf, cross country skiing, swimming, badminton and figure skating. All of the recipients were being recognized for their hard work and commitment.  

The guest speaker for the evening, Josh Binstock, is a long-time Richmond Hill resident who represented Canada at the Rio Olympics for beach volleyball. Josh spoke about his experiences growing up in Richmond Hill and as a national and Olympic athlete. He also talked about the importance of youth participating in physical activity and all the hard work and dedication required for a competitive athlete.  

I was really pleased to see so many parents and grandparents of the honoured athletes in attendance.  They were clearly great supporters, the biggest fans, and very proud parents of these young athletes.

I was particularly honoured to present an award to the St. Theresa of Lisieux Lions – Relay Swim Team. In March 2016 the St. Theresa Lions Swim Team consisting of Andre Sanchez, Eun Soo Ha, Nicholas Bulban, and Jax Chan competed in the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association Championships in the 200-metre relay race. In doing so they took home gold while breaking and setting an OFSAA record of a time of 1:49.88, with the previous record being 1:51.37 set back in 2014.

 

Congratulations to the St. Theresa Lions Relay Swim Team!

Photo courtesy of Ward 4 resident and “proud dad” – Joey Chan

Historic Observatory buildings, parkland and telescope now part of Richmond Hill’s future 

Richmond Hill moved one step closer to establishing the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) Park with the transfer of the land and buildings to the Town of Richmond Hill on March 21, 2017. The transfer includes 40 hectares of parkland, the Observatory Dome facility with the original 1.88 metres telescope and the Administration Building on the DDO property.  

“This is significant for Richmond Hill. We are proud that our efforts to preserve this land for the community have paid off,” said Mayor Dave Barrow. “The Observatory Dome is a classic symbol of our history, and now an exciting part of our future, as well.”  

The DDO property is a 76.5-hectare site located in central Richmond Hill between Bayview Avenue to the east, the CN rail line to the west, 16th Avenue to the south and Hillsview Drive to the north. The DDO opened in 1935, a gift to the University of Toronto by Jessie Donalda Dunlap as a memorial to her husband David Alexander Dunlap.  

The DDO was the research centre for the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto from the 1930s until 2008, when it was sold to the land developer Corsica Development Inc. Since then, Richmond Hill Council  has taken several steps to ensure that this valued resource remains vital and accessible into the future.  

The transfer of the parkland, Dome and Administrative Building to Richmond Hill is a key component of the DDO Park Master Plan which was approved in September 2016 and determines the overall vision and strategic approach to preserving and enhancing the 40-hectare site. Work is expected to begin on the park within the next few years and there will be opportunities for the community to provide input.  

“The DDO Park will become a treasured place in the GTA that embodies discovery, education, sustainability and inclusion,” said Mayor Barrow. “It will be a combination of heritage preservation, unique recreation opportunities and a celebration of the astronomical history of the site.”   

In the coming months, Richmond Hill staff will be reviewing proposals for programming at the Observatory buildings so that the DDO continues to be a regional centre for education and public outreach related to astronomy. Staff will also be working to ensure the site meets the health and safety, building code and accessibility requirements so that the site is safe for public use.   For more information, visit RichmondHill.ca/DDO.

Oak Ridges Pool Temporary Closure

In early January a light fixture exploded at the Oak Ridges Community Centre Pool. There were no patrons in the facility at the time. However some damage occurred that needed to be carefully cleaned up by staff. Since that time our staff has been working with our insurer and the manufacturer of the light fixture to rectify the damage and determine the cause of the problem. Since the manufacturer has not been able to determine the cause of the failure, and after careful consideration of the options, it was concluded that given the uncertainty of the root cause of the incident, the most feasible option to get the facility back into operation is to install a new permanent lighting solution. This work is currently under way and we expect to re open the pool at the beginning of June.  In the mean time I would encourage our residents to visit another one of our other public pools. I appreciate everyone’s patience as we work toward a safe solution to this problem.