March Council News

1. Richmond Hill Challenges OMB ruling on Parkland

A recent OMB decision will leave us about $75M short of Parkland Cash in Lieu Payments.  Clearly, as our population grows we will need more park space. Council recently passed its Parks Plan outlining our future parkland needs over the coming years, and Cash in Lieu payments from development will help us to acquire this additional parkland. This OMB decision limits the amount of money we can charge for Parkland Cash in Lieu and will have the effect of reducing the amount of money that we will receive from development to acquire parks. It will have a significant negative impact on our plans for park quality and quantity. Council recently directed staff to challenge this OMB decision. As I said in my comments to council – our Parks Plan makes great parks the jewel of our community but this OMB decision makes slightly less expensive condos the jewel of our community. A good synopsis of this issue can be found at

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/02/24/richmond-hill-and-omb-face-off-in-a-duel-over-parkland-and-developers.html 

 

2. Initial Dunlap Observatory Park Plan Released

Council was recently presented with two preliminary concept plans for the David Dunlap Observatory Park. This will be an exciting project. Input from residents has been going on for a while and will continue to be solicited. To learn more about the plans for this park click here

 

3. Village of Richmond Hill BIA Budget Approved

The Village of Richmond Hill Business Improvement Area Board of Directors recently passed its 2015 Operating Budget. This budget is used to beautify and improve the Village Core area of our Town. There are some great businesses and restaurants in our Historic Village Core – why not visit one today (in fact 3  downtown businesses recently won a Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Award).

 

4. Chinese New Year Celebrations

I had the pleasure of attending the Confederation of Greater Toronto Chinese Business Association’s Chinese New Year Gala. It was a well attended event with many dignitaries in attendance. All were treated to great entertainment including a lively Dragon Dance.  I also attended a Chinese New Year Celebration hosted by our MPP Reza Moridi and my council colleagues Councillors Chan and Liu. Kung Hei Fat Choy to all!

 

5. Richmond Hill Operating Budget Approved 

After a month of weekly Budget Committee of the Whole meetings and many hours of work from our staff and councillors, Council approved our 2015 Operating Budget. The budget will result in a 2.6% increase on the total tax bill. This budget reflects the maintainance of our Municipal Services as well as a number of improvements in key areas. It also represents a careful review of the expenditure of our tax dollars while providing the services that our citizens expect.  I would like to thank all residents who provided input to myself and other councillors during this process. The budget process for the following year begins the day after the previous budget is passed. I will continue to listen carefully to the input I receive from residents and will use this collective input as we move towards the next set of budget decisions. For more information click here
Budget Press Release
Richmond Hill Council approved the 2015 Operating Budget of $148.9 million at a Special Council Meeting on March 2. The Operating Budget will result in a 2.6 per cent increase on the total property tax bill.
“This budget allows us to add and improve services, including park security, a block pruning program for our trees, building maintenance and additional support for children with special needs,” said Mayor Dave Barrow. “We scrutinized the budget with the goal of ensuring that the increase in the tax rate was as minimal as possible.”
The 2015 Operating Budget will add some new staff positions, including a Web & Social Media Coordinator to support a new website, an Urban Forestry Technician to help maintain the urban forest, two Roads staff for road work and winter maintenance and four Parks staff to better maintain and secure Richmond Hill’s parks.

 

“Our job as Council is to find the best possible balance of services, costs and long-term planning,” said Budget Chair, Regional & Local Councillor Brenda Hogg. “This budget ensures that we are able to continue to provide important services for the families in our community.”
Richmond Hill’s Operating Budget consists of the expenses of day-to-day operations, including utilities, rent, insurance, staff wages and benefits, program supplies, transportation and repairs. More than a third of Richmond Hill’s $148.9 million Operating Budget is funded from sources other than taxes, including fines, fees, investments and reserves.

 

“We’re always looking for efficiencies and partnerships as well as other opportunities to mitigate increases,” said Mayor Barrow. “Still, just like households, our costs to provide services can go up each year with natural gas, hydro and postage increases.”
Those increases can be particularly difficult for seniors. For that reason, the Town will continue to offer the Seniors’ Tax Assistance Grant and it will increase by $14 to $345 per eligible applicant for 2015.

 

Visit RichmondHill.ca/Budget for more information about Richmond Hill’s 2015 Budget, including a tax calculator and departmental draft budgets and presentations.

6. Yonge Street Bus Rapidway Transit (BRT) Advisory Committee 

As anyone knows, that lives in the GTA, traffic congestion is a significant daily challenge. A major transit initiative that will provide a Bus Rapidway up the centre of Yonge Street from Highway #7 to Newmarket has begun. This plan is being spearheaded by the Region of York. Richmond Hill has formed a committee that will keep Council apprised of issues that arise during the construction of this project. There is no question that the construction period will present challenges to businesses and to residents. Many different initiatives will take place to help ameliorate these impacts as much as possible. Stay tuned for more information. For more on the Yonge Street BRT project click here

 

7. Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce BRT Committee

I participated in the first of many business focussed BRT meetings hosted by the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber, the Town, and the Region of York, are ready to support our businesses along Yonge Street in order to help them through the construction period for the BRT project.


8. Richmond Hill Website Update

Richmond Hill is updating its website. Our staff are currently in the process of this redesign. If there are features and/or information that you think we need included in our website that would make the site a more valuable tool for our residents please let me know.
9. Operating Budget approves more Council Meetings to be Live Streamed

In the 2015 Operating  Budget there is a provision to increase the number of meetings that will be live streamed. Presently only Committee of the Whole and Council Meetings are live streamed. Beginning soon, Council Public Meetings and Budget Committee of the Whole will also be live streamed. This means people can watch these meetings from the comfort of their home live (they are also archived if you can’t watch live).To watch a meeting live click here.

 

I have tried to keep items in this section brief, but if you would like more information on any topic please do not hesitate to contact me for more detailed information – email me at [email protected].