Minister Zoning Order -1577-1621 Major Mackenzie Drive East

ichmond Hill Council recently passed a motion to formally request the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to issue a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) to enable implementation of a development proposed for 1577-1621 Major Mackenzie Drive East. This proposal includes mostly residential development with a small part being a Long-Term care facility.
 
I voted in opposition to this motion becasue I have serious concerns about this proposal. I believe that the use of an MZO, which significantly bypasses important due process, input from our Planning Staff, and input from our residents, was inappropriate and not in the overall best interests of the community.
 
I did speak in favour of the Long Term Care part of this plan. This facility is needed and important to our community. However, the component of the plan that includes the care facility represented a very small part of the overall plan and I believe that this part of the plan could have been easily achieved without an MZO.
 
Had we gone through the normal Planning Process we could have had the benefit of a full consultation with the community and our Planning Staff to achieve a good overall plan and design.
 
Since passing this Council motion the MZO has been approved by the Provincial Government. As it stands the plan now calls for primarily residential use on this land including buildings up to 40 storeys along the Highway 404 frontage of the property.
 
This land was originally designated to be important employment land and I am very disappointed, given the mostly residential permissions outlined in the MZO, that the quantity of jobs that will be provided now is a fraction of what it could have been under the original designation.
 
Providing lands like this for employment is important for Richmond Hill and will be more important in the future as we grow. These lands would have been most suitable for employment lands especially given they are surrounded by other employment lands and also they are situated along highway 404.
 
On a related note, the Region of York Council recently moved to re designate this land from employment land to primarily residential use, and ironically at the same meeting passed a motion to ask the provincial government to open up additional lands along 400 series highways in York Region that are currently protected as Oak Ridges Moraine lands, using the rationale that we have a shortage of Employment Lands.
 
It is clear to me that converting these lands to residential use only makes this shortage worse and puts undue pressure on protected environmentally sensitive land. To learn more view (https://davidwest-richmondhill.ca/york-region-council-approves-greenbelt-development-request/ )
 
In combination with the York Region Council’s actions and this MZO, it is my concern that the permissions now in place for these lands represent a significant waste of potential for our community.
 
An article “Richmond Hill moves to fast-track development at Major Mackenzie, Hwy. 404” appeared in the November 5 edition of The Liberal following the October 28 Council Meeting. To read it click here.