February 2016 Council News and Highlights

1. Richmond Hill Downtown Secondary Plan – Council Public Meeting
On February 3rd Council hosted a meeting to give the public and stakeholders an opportunity to learn about and comment on, a new proposed Downtown Secondary Plan for the Historic Village Core of Richmond Hill. It was a very well attended meeting and many great comments were made from the area’s neighbours and from land owners in the Village Core. I am looking to discuss this matter in more detail with any and all stakeholders as we progress through the public input stage of this process, before the plan comes to Council for approval. For more information please see the article below entitled “Downtown Secondary Plan Council Public Meeting Report.”
2. No Hair Selfie for Princess Margaret Hospital
Getting my hair buzzed for Princess Margaret Hospital
Me, (with less hair), our MC Emily, and Councillor Liu (who organized this event for us)
Earlier this month the entire Richmond Hill Council participated in the No Hair Selfie initiative in support of Cancer Research and Princess Margaret Hospital. We all got a real or “virtual” head shave and raised over $6000 for this important cause. Cancer has touched too many of our families’ lives and a big Thank You goes out to all that came out to donate and cheer us on.
Link to Liberal Article about the event click here
3. Windrow Removal Service Survey Results

Late last year Council approved the commissioning of a survey to receive input on the snow removal practices in Richmond Hill and specifically, to gauge the level of support for windrow removal for all residents. It was important to ensure that the professional survey firm that was hired make it clear to survey respondents, the cost and any other implications of this potential service. It was found that a majority of residents did not approve of the increased level of service that town wide windrow removal would represent. A link to the full staff report and the survey can be found by clicking here. A report on this subject from he Liberal newspaper can be found here.
4. Shaftsbury Traffic near St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School
Our traffic staff, myself, and representatives from the school continue to work toward finding solutions for traffic and safety issues near St Theresa High School. We have received some traffic data to identify the problem and are now working to find the most effective solution.
5. Village Core Business Improvement Area Association (BIA) Annual General Meeting

Our BIA Board Chair, Mehrdad, addressing the attendees
Our Manager of Planning Policy Paul Freeman presenting our Downtown Secondary Plan to the BIA membership.

Our Village of Richmond Hill Business Improvement Area Association had its Annual General Meeting this month. BIAs across Ontario, including ours, are tasked with creating a more vibrant business environment in a specific area. Our BIA presented its financial statements from the past year, the budget for the coming year, and we also had a presentation from our Planning Staff concerning our proposed Downtown Secondary Plan. A good partnership between business and the town will be crucial in order to achieve a revitalized Village Core. Councillor Muench and myself are the Council representatives for the BIA and we will continue to work in support of their efforts.

6. Hillcrest Mall Budget Consultations
Speaking to a resident about the Operating Budget at Hillcrest Mall
Many of my council colleagues and our financial staff were available earlier this month at Hillcrest Mall to listen to input from residents concerning our 2016 Operating Budget. I had the chance to have in depth conversations with a number of citizens. This input and many emails and calls will be used to shape the choices that need to be made to set the 2016 Operating Budget for Richmond Hill.
7. Smart Commute Carpool Week 
With Smart Commute Executive Director Flo
Council voted to proclaim February 1st to 7th, Carpool Week in Richmond Hill. For more information on our Smart Commute initiative please visit www.smartcommute.ca
8. Chamber of Commerce Past Presidents Meeting
Past Presidents/Chairs of the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce gathered recently to talk about creating a vibrant future for the Chamber of Commerce in Richmond Hill. I was pleased to participate. My time as Government Affairs Committee Chair, Board Member, and Board Chair remains important to me. The Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce is an important leader in our business community, and being the current Council Liaison on the Chamber allows me to contribute to the important work that the Chamber does for our local businesses.
9. York Region Senior Tamils’ Centre Thai Pongal Celebrations
Again this year I had the pleasure of attending the Thai Pongal celebrations hosted by the York Region Senior Tamil Centre. It is great to be able to celebrate the “Harvest” and a “New Year” in January!
10. Oakville Business Improvement Area (BIA) trip
We are constantly looking for ways to help to revitalize our Village Core area. To that end our staff and I set up a meeting with the Oakville BIA to help to bring back ideas for our Richmond Hill BIA to use to achieve the goal of a vibrant Village Core business environment. It was a great information gathering exercise and many good ideas were brought back. Oakville’s historic Village core is beautiful and has a great deal in common with our own.
11. Meeting with Minister of Small Business and Tourism Ms. Bardish Chagger and our Business Community

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce and a number of other York Region Chambers recently met with our federal Minister of Small Business and Tourism to talk about concerns relevant to small business in our community. The vast majority of Richmond Hill’s businesses are small to medium sized enterprises, and this meeting was squarely aimed at the issues that impact these businesses. A good conversation ensued and I would hope that a productive working relationship with the current Federal Government will be one of the the outcomes.

12. Clean Air Council Recognizes Richmond Hill

Gabriella Kalapos, Executive Director of the Clean Air Council (CAC) office presented Council with a certificate of recognition for Richmond Hill’s progress toward the reduction of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The CAC is a network of 27 municipalities and health units (representing over half the population of Ontario) that work collaboratively on initiatives to mitigate climate change. Every four years, members of the CAC sign a declaration of priority actions to provide direction on priority environmental initiatives. Through the CAC progress report, Richmond Hill was recognized in ten of the priority areas for many of its environmental initiatives, including the Emerald Ash Borer Management Strategy, Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan, Sustainable Development Metrics and other energy conservation initiatives.
13. More than $70,000 Raised for United Way by Richmond Hill Employee Campaign
Richmond Hill Staff United Way Campaign Chair and Commissioner of Community Services, Shane Baker, presented $70,024 to United Way of Toronto & York Region on behalf of town staff. Each year, Richmond Hill staff show their support for the United Way by participating in a variety of initiatives to raise funds for the organization, including a payroll deduction program, bake sale, silent auctions and several team building events. Richmond Hill’s campaign was nominated for two United Way Spirit Awards in the Public Sector category, for Campaign Team and Employee Campaign. The 2015 campaign is the first following the amalgamation of United Way Toronto and United Way York Region. The region-wide campaign raised a record $100,250,000 and will directly benefit many local agencies in Richmond Hill and the GTA that offer essential programs to the community. For more information about the United Way of Toronto & York Region, visit unitedwaytyr.com.

14. Richmond Hill Continues to Leverage Grant Funding

Richmond Hill has a grants program to actively pursue grant funding opportunities from the federal and provincial governments, as well as from other funding organizations. Grant funding creates opportunities for Richmond Hill to accelerate important infrastructure renewal projects and engage in cost sharing for innovative initiatives. Through the grants program, Richmond Hill has received more than $59 million in funding since 2007. For more information visit https://www.richmondhill.ca/subpage.asp?pageid=grant_projects