Councillor Highlights

1.  Mayor’s Monarch Pledge Update – Monarch butterfly numbers up 144% at Mexico wintering grounds
 
There is some good news being reported from the Monarch Butterfly overwintering grounds in Mexico. The migration numbers are up from previous years even though the recovery is fragile. I am proud of the work being done in Richmond Hill and similar work being done in the United States, Mexico and other places in Canada. 
 
Richmond Hill was one of the first Canadian communities to sign The Mayor’s Monarch Pledge which directs our efforts to increase Milkweed in naturalized areas and increases native plants that butterflies and other pollinators can use for food. There is always more to do but I am proud of our community’s leadership and contribution!  Please click here to read an Associated Press news article posted by CBC in January.
 
 
2. Lunar New Year Celebrations in Richmond Hill
I am always honoured to accept a number of invitations to various Chinese New Year celebrations and it is always a pleasure to celebrate this occasion with so many members of our community. I want to wish all that celebrate the Lunar New Year – Year of the Pig, a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year ahead! 
 
 3. Targeting Climate Change Event

Thanks to Richmond Hill resident Esther Collier, the organizers, and the Richmond Hill United Church for hosting the first Targeting Climate Change event in our community. The event brought together citizens and organizations working in the area of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and the impacts of climate change. The goal of this series of events is: 

1.Exposure to the issue of climate change which will normalize it within the community and eliminate many of the barriers to action and advocacy
2. Networking will facilitate action and reduce anxiety and stress related to the issue
3. Exchange of information will increase the quantity and efficacy of actions and advocacy within the community
The event was well attended and will be the first meeting in a series addressing this important  concern. I was honoured to be a part of the panel and was happy to answer questions from the attendees about the role that Richmond Hill continues to play in reducing our collective GHG emissions as well as working to reduce the potential impacts to our community as larger and more frequent weather-related impacts occur. 
 
A good resource outlining Richmond Hill’s efforts can be found in Greening the Hill, our Environment Strategy by clicking here
 
The next meeting will take place on March 9th from 1PM to 3PM at the Richmond Hill United Church and delegates can get more details and register to attend by contacting [email protected], or see below for more information on Targeting Climate Change #2.
 
4. Smart Commute Markham Richmond Hill

Some fellow members of Smart Commute Advisory Board
 
For several years I have had the pleasure to serve on the Smart Commute Markham Richmond Hill advisory committee. Smart Commute is an organization that helps to develop and facilitate programs that help promote alternative transportation options for businesses and their employees to get to work. These programs help to provide cost effective ways to get “cars off the road” during rush hours in our community. For more information on this program please visit smartcommutemrh.ca  
 
5.  AMO and M3RC 2019 Municipal Forum on the Waste-Free Ontario Act

               

 
 
 
I recently attended a forum related to Municipal Waste. This is not a glamorous subject, but it is an important one for municipalities. For a while now, our staff and Council have recognized that some significant changes to our waste collection responsibilities are likely coming from new Provincial regulations, and we must be prepared to respond to these changes when they come.
 
Ontario municipalities collectively incur $1.2B in costs related to waste, recycling, and organics collection and disposal. Of the approximately 9 million tonnes of waste sent to landfills, and burned in Energy to Waste facilities in Ontario each year, only 40% of this is from residential sources, the rest is from the industrial and commercial sectors. Waste collection and processing is a significant part of our Richmond Hill operating budget, and any changes dictated by the province to this area of responsibility can have a significant impact on our tax rate. 
 
The current and previous provincial government have been contemplating moving more to a “producer pay” model for waste collection and disposal. The general idea is that producers of packaging and products will pay more for the disposal and collection of that waste, rather than the current condition whereby municipalities must accept the lion’s share of this cost burden. I believe that a move toward a producer pay model will have positive benefits for municipalities like Richmond Hill, because, while under this new model, the Town may still opt to collect the Blue and Green bins, as well as garbage, the producers of this waste will compensate the municipality for these costs.
 
Further, it has been indicated that if this new system were to be implemented, the producers may be more inclined to, for example, make their packaging more easily recyclable and cut down on the amount of packaging they produce. This would have a benefit to the environment.
 
The details of this potential plan have not yet been finalized, and there has not yet been a firm commitment from the current provincial government to proceed with this plan, but overall I believe that the possibility to lessen the tax burden on Richmond Hill taxpayers, and reduce the amount of waste that is generated is a positive step and one elected officials and staff must closely monitor.