Happy New Year

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Last Year was a very challenging year for Richmond Hill from a number of perspectives, and I am sure we can all agree that we look forward to a brighter New Year ahead of us.
 
We continue to face increasing challenges in Richmond Hill due to COVID-19. Infection numbers in our community, in York Region, and in Ontario are rising. As a result of this alarming trend, the capacity for our hospitals to be able to provide important medical help is now at, or above capacity. This fact can have dire consequences to our friends, neighbours and family and we must do our part to ensure we stop the spread of COVID-19. To respond to this pandemic crisis the Ontario government has unveiled stricter Public Health measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. It is crucial that each of us do our part to adhere to the spirit and the letter of the law regarding these new measures.
 
I have heard some controversy about the details of the present provincial orders but in my mind, at this point in time, the message is clear. We all need to stay home as much as possible, follow all Public Health protocols, including washing hands, and practicing physical distancing. These practices are our best hope in getting the infection rate under control and keeping COVID out of our homes, our Long Term Care facilities, and our businesses and perhaps most critically, out of our hospitals. Preventing new infections will help keep sick patients out of hospitals and allow those that need urgent medical services to get those services in a timely manner. There is more information on specific details of the new provincial order below in this e newsletter.
 
There is some much needed good news on the horizon. Several vaccines for COVID-19 are now available and are being administered. As the vaccination plan rolls out there is much reason for optimism. In the meantime, until we have a substantial part of our population vaccinated, we must all take exceptional care to stay healthy and keep our fellow citizens healthy as well.
 
The on-going provincial Public Health restrictions continue to exert extra pressure on our Richmond Hill staff as they do their best to deliver the services that our community needs and expects. I appreciate the important work our staff does for our community. I want to continue to thank them for the great work they have done so far and for the great work that they will do in the future for all of us in our community. The efforts and dedication of our staff along with the first responders, medical staff, and frontline staff in a number of crucial businesses that serve our collective needs, are truly heroic.
 
As always, below in this e newsletter I have reported on a number of important community issues and items of community news. In particular, a complete development application for the lands at the corner of Arnold Crescent and Major Mackenzie Drive has been received by Richmond Hill Planning Staff. This application represents a proposal that is far larger than what I feel is appropriate for this site. I have provided further information below regarding the specifics of this application and the public process that will unfold over the following months to deal with this proposal.
 
There is also information below about this year’s Richmond Hill Winter Carnival and how our volunteer committee has been hard at work for the past several months to deliver what will be the first ever virtual Winter Carnival. Much will be different at the Richmond Hill Winter Carnival this year, but our committee feels that regardless of the pandemic, we should still celebrate winter as the Carnival has always helped Richmond Hill to do, but in a different way this year – together but apart! All details of the Richmond Hill Winter Carnival plans are contained below in this e newsletter.
 
Finally as anyone who has driven on Yonge Street lately has seen that the VIVA Bus Rapidway is now open. It has been a very long time coming, with seemingly endless construction over the past years, but the result of this important transit project can now been seen with the buses now running. Thank you to local Ward 4 resident and photographer Chris Robart for a stunning photographic depiction of the Bus Rapidway at night in the banner photo of this e newsletter above.
 
As always, I welcome a call or an email from anyone if they have any comments or questions about information contained in this e newsletter or any other issue about our community. My email is david.west@richmondhill.ca and my mobile phone number is 416-346-3090.
 
Banner photo – Night shot of one of Richmond Hill’s new Yonge Street vivaNext Rapidway bus terminals. Photo Courtesy of Ward 4 Resident Chris Robart.