Council News and Hilights
1. “Trash Talk” in Richmond Hill … as well as recycling talk and organic waste talk
Council recently had a Special Meeting to begin discussions regarding the renewal of
our Richmond Hill waste collection contract. The current contract expires in 2017. While this is certainly not a glamorous topic, it is a “close to the ground” decision that is important to residents of a municipality.
Waste collection is performed by the Town of Richmond Hill, and the disposal of this waste is the responsibility of the Region of York. Waste collection represents a very significant cost to our town and the contract encompasses a number of different facets. The town collects waste from parks and other recreation facilities as well as homes and some businesses. We also collect recyclables and organic waste as well as yard waste. Many aspects of waste collection were specifically discussed during this council meeting but three of these stood out for me.
Presently the waste truck operators dump curb side waste into the truck by hand. It was discussed whether we should move to a system like they have in Toronto, where residents are issued specific waste bins that are dumped automatically by a mechanical arm on the truck. It was discussed that in many houses and garages in our town there will not be sufficient space for this larger bin, and consequently it would need to be stored outside.
Secondly, the issue of recycling bins being available beside Community Mailboxes was also discussed. I have had a number of calls about the litter that sometimes exists around mailboxes. The cost of placement and servicing of these recycling bins is unknown at this time, but staff will investigate the issue and report their findings to council.
We also talked about placement and servicing of waste bins in parks and public spaces. This issue has generated some discussion from residents. Staff will look into the issues related to this facet of the waste collection contract as well.
Richmond Hill has established a level of service for waste collection, and this will be open for discussion over the coming months as our staff collects feedback from the public and council. Many decisions ranging from the frequency of collection all the way to methods of collection will be discussed. In the end, a significant factor will be the cost and value to the taxpayer of the suite of waste collection services available. If you have any thoughts on waste – or said in another way – if you want to get involved in the “Trash Talk” please contact me.
To Learn what happens to your waste collection after it is collected please click here
2. Richmond Hill CAO – Changing of the Guard
As is the case with any organization, leadership changes are a part of their existence. Richmond Hill recently saw our CAO of the past 10 years Joan Anderton, retire and a new CAO, Neil Garbe hired by council to fill this position.
Ms. Anderton has led our town with skill and vision. Under her leadership most of our current plans such as the Strategic Plan, Environmental Plan, Parks Plan and perhaps most importantly our new Official Plan, were developed and implemented. Council and staff as well as myself wish Joan a fulfilling and happy retirement!
Mr. Garbe comes to us from Aurora and has had much municipal leadership experience including extensive work at the Region of York. I am pleased to welcome him to our town and look forward to more great leadership and progress in making our community the best it can be for our residents.
3. Update on Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Strategy
We received an update on our EAB strategy at council this month. Below is a synopsis from our staff.
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. It is anticipated that EAB will kill all of the ash trees in Richmond Hill in the next 3 to 5 years. The following is an update on the EAB tree removal and replacement program:
-So far in 2015, the Town has removed 3,230 ash trees that were dead or dying due to EAB damage – 1,250 from boulevards (streets) and 1,980 from parks and natural areas.
– Replanting of 1,250 street and 167 park trees is underway and expected to be complete by mid-July.
– All remaining ash trees on streets will be re-assessed for damage this June. Trees with dieback of 30% or greater at the time of assessment will be removed later this year and replacement planting will occur in spring 2016.
– Ash Trees in parks and natural areas will be removed over the next 3 years as per the Parks & Open Space Removal and Replacement Plan.
– Trees that were treated with pesticide in 2013 and are deemed healthy enough, will be treated again this summer.
A notice in the form of a door hanger will be provided to residents whose property is adjacent to Town-owned trees that are scheduled for maintenance (pesticide treatment, removal, stumping or replacement).
If you have any questions or concerns regarding:
– Pesticide Treatment: please contact Ann Marie Farrugia at ext. 5509.
– Removals and Replacements: please contact Jeff Stewart at ext. 2935 or Mark Davies at ext. 2945. Additional information about EAB is available at RichmondHill.ca/EAB.
4. Illegal Plastic Lawn Sign Enforcement Blitz
Every year, the spring melt precedes the placement of many illegal plastic road-side signs. Richmond Hill staff recently removed more than 1,600 signs from boulevards, and light posts. We will prosecute offenders when possible. These signs seem more common in the spring and many residents called me about this issue. This led to the four-day removal blitz (April 29 to May 2), as well as sharing information with the public via the website, a Bulletin Board ad in The Liberal, and social media posts.
5. Village of Richmond Hill BIA Farmers’ Market update
Last year the Village of Richmond Hill BIA and the Town organized a Farmers’ Market in the Richmond Hill Theatre parking lot. The Farmer who organized this event was not willing to continue this year so the BIA and the Town began the process of organizing this event. Unfortunately it has been decided that not enough Farmers were willing to participate in the market, and so a decision has been made to skip this year’s market in order to put efforts into restarting this market in 2016. Stay tuned for news in early 2016.
6. Village of Richmond Hill BIA in the News
Our Village Business Improvement Area has been working hard to make the Village Core of our town the vibrant place that it should be. I continue to be actively involved in this initiative as the Council Liaison. Their efforts were recently hi lighted in a great article in the Liberal Newspaper. To read this article click on the following link – https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/5642751-new-richmond-hill-bia-board-has-fresh-ideas-to-bring-shoppers-downtown/. Feel welcome to visit the Village this summer. Great restaurants and businesses are waiting for you!
7. June has been proclaimed Senior’s Month
Council proclaimed the month of June Seniors’ Month to recognize the significant contributions Seniors make every day to our community. For the past 31 years, Richmond Hill has been showing their appreciation for Seniors by hosting events and activities in the community. This year will be even more exciting as the Town is hosting a barbecue, an ice cream social, bingo and badminton games, all promoting healthy living. For the full list of events taking place throughout June, visit RichmondHill.ca/Seniors.
8. Richmond Hill – A Great Place to Live in Canada
Richmond Hill has been named the 36th out of 209 best places to live in Canada. It is also interesting to note our ranking is on the rise. For more information on this honour click here .
9. St Theresa Of Lisieux Catholic High School Students Provide Feedback
Our staff recently asked the Environmental Club at St. T to provide feedback as a part of our Environmental Assessment Process relating to the work that needs to be performed to restore the valley lands in the Elgin Mills Greenway (right next to the school). It was great to hear the perspective of the younger generation regarding this project. I found it particularly interesting to contrast this feedback to the input that we received from adults at the public consultation a month before. I would like to thank these engaged young people for offering their perspective on this project. Staff has made notes from all the public feedback sessions that we have had and this will guide us as we bring a recommendation back to council.
10. Windrow Clearing Survey Approved at Council
At Council recently a survey strategy was approved regarding the needs and costs related to windrow removal. This survey will be designed to gauge the support for this service given the potential costs to our taxpayers and logistics of this service. Windrow removal is a potentially expensive item for our municipality so it is important that Council members are confident that the opinion of our residents is understood. It is also important that the associated costs and significant logistics are understood by the respondents in order to accurately gauge this opinion.
11. William Harrison Park Update
At the end of May the construction company that was contracted to complete William Harrison Park (at the corner of Colesbrook Road and Aikenhead Avenue) declared bankruptcy. This is clearly an unfortunate and unexpected event but staff are now in the process of assigning the remainder of the contract to another firm. When a contract of this nature is awarded, the contractor is required to post a bond so that funds are available to cover costs should situations like this arise. In this case, the bond will now be used to cover the cost of the remaining work so that there is no negative impact on our taxpayers. I appreciate the area residents’ patience and I assure you that staff are working to complete this park as quickly as possible so that it can be enjoyed by the community.
12. When I was a Kid I Used to Walk to School Up Hill Both Ways
Ok that was not me that said that – it was my grandfather! In any case it seems that children do not walk to school as much as they once did (and it is no longer uphill both ways). There are many valid reasons why this is the case, and I respect that. There has been a marked push in the last number of years to encourage children to become more physically active. Related to this is a greater effort to promote active transportation (walking and cycling). Our town staff, staff from the Public School Board, and York Region Public Health staff have always worked toward these goals. We are working to expand this initiative in the new school year in Ward 4. Stay tuned for more in September.
13. Lakeland Florida Day in Richmond Hill
We had the pleasure of having representatives from our Sister City, Lakeland Florida, visit our town over the past week. They attended our Heritage Day, golfed in our Mayor’s Charity Golf Tournament, attended a flag raising in their honour, and visited council. It was great to meet “our sister”, especially since our sister lives in sunny Florida! Apparently all of Richmond Hill is invited to Florida this winter to stay with our sister!
14. Ward 3 and 4 Big Bike Challenge for Heart and Stroke Foundation
Councillor Castro Liu and myself teamed up with 27 of our residents and friends to raise money and awareness of the great work that Heart and Stroke Foundation does in our community. Heart Disease and Stroke touches many lives in Richmond Hill. The Heart and Stroke Foundation, each year, raises money through its big bike challenge to further research preventing and treating these diseases. It was a fun time and I want to thank all that participated!
15. Med Edge Summit in Richmond Hill
Med Edge is a conference organized through our Economic Development Department each June for the past six years. It is recognized as one of the most important GTA conferences on Bioscience and Medical Technology bringing together over 600 attendees from across North America. This sector of our economy is one that we have targeted for growth in our Economic Development plans, and Med Edge supports this goal in part.
16. Street Art for Pedestrian Crosswalk at Lorne Ave. and Yonge St.
During the recent Heritage Day Celebration residents got down their hands and knees with our town staff to add “art” to the pedestrian crossing at Lorne Ave. Thanks to my friend and “artist” Mustafa for sending the photo of the work in process!