Making Progress Greening the Hill

October Issue -Richmond Hill Post 
David West – Richmond Hill Ward 4 Councillor
Living in a healthy environment is a foundation for all life on this planet. It is also the foundation to creating a vibrant urban environment for our species. While balancing a developing urban municipality and a healthy natural environment can often provide challenges, in Richmond Hill we are willing to meet these challenges head on.
I have always valued Richmond Hill’s environmental stewardship efforts.  Thanks to our careful planning, Richmond Hill has been blessed with an abundance of parks and green spaces. It is our responsibility to protect and enhance these green spaces for the future.
In 2014 Council passed our environment strategy aptly named Greening the Hill: Our Community, Our Future. This important document commits our community to an environmentally sustainable future through specific action items. For example, Council was recently able to acquire a parcel of land at 71 Regent Street to expand our already beautiful Mill Pond Park.  
Last year, with the help of community volunteers, we planted over 10,000 native trees, plants, and shrubs. We were also able to naturalize over 8 acres of municipal land, we removed over 145 bags of invasive plant species, and despite the terrible carnage that the Emerald Ash Borer has let loose on our Urban forests, we were still able to increase our urban forest canopy by 4.6% since 2010.
One of the many natural jewels of our Town, Lake Wilcox, is becoming healthier with the implementation of the Lake Wilcox Remediation Strategy. Likewise, work continues to be done to improve other important waterways in our community. We will soon be embarking on improvements to the storm pond component of the Elgin Mills Greenway, and we have already won a number of environmental awards with our recently completed Rumble Pond Stormwater Management Pond. Careful stewardship of our water resources will be crucial to our community’s overall environmental health so it  necessitates our attention.
Council also recently passed the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge, which commits our municipality to a number of concrete actions that help protect Monarch Butterflies and other pollinator species. Richmond Hill is still one of the few Canadian municipalities that have signed this pledge. Given the number of Monarch Butterflies that we have had the pleasure of seeing this year I would like to think that efforts like ours, multiplied all across North America, are playing a part in bringing this species back from the brink of extinction.
Helping to instill a culture of environmental responsibility in our community has been achieved by our staff hosting over 130 educational outreach events for residents of all ages. The result – we have not had to do this work alone. We have had the help of an army of volunteers that have passionately gone about the work of making their home community better for themselves and future generations.
There is always more work to do, but if the past is an indicator of the future, we are on course to making Richmond Hill an even greener place to live!
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