Richmond Hill Council News

1.  Congratulations to the 2019 Young Entrepreneur of the Year!
Richmond Hill resident and owner of LocalStudent, Alex Ryzer, received the William F. Bell Young Entrepreneur Award for 2019. Mr. Ryzer was selected for his hard work and success through the Summer Company program supported by the City of Richmond Hill, which helps students, ages 15-29, learn how to run their own business. His company connected homeowners who needed services such as lawn mowing, dog walking and window cleaning, with students from their community willing to work. Through the Summer Company program, Mr. Ryzer received mentorship, accessed networks of business owners and gained website creation, problem solving and leadership skills. As a result of his efforts, his clients and sales grew. In the company’s first year, Mr. Ryzer was able to hire a manager and web developer, franchised LocalStudent and received funding from VPI Working Solutions.
 
2. Richmond Hill Continues Investment in Recreational Facilities
Council approved the addition of an artificial turf surface for the portable bocce ball courts at Richmond Green. Understanding that recreation is an important aspect to the lives our residents, the City is committed to continuous improvement and maintenance of our facilities. The artificial turf being added to the portable courts will be funded from the Infrastructure Repair and Replacement Reserve in the amount of $26,000 plus taxes.  In the last couple of years Council approved the budget for the creation of these Bocce Courts at Richmond Green at a cost of about $30,000.
 
3.  Regional Government Review Announcement
For a many months now a number of municipalities in Ontario, including those in York Region, have been going through a process imposed by the province to determine if any structural changes or amalgamations would occur to the Region of York and its 9 municipalities. It has been recently announced that at the end of this extensive process put forward by the Provincial Government that it has been concluded that no changes will occur. For more information on this outcome please see the press release released by the province.
 
4. Richmond Hill Council Sets Maximum 1% Tax Increase
Richmond Hill Council reaffirmed its commitment to limiting a tax increase to one per cent in 2020 at a recent Budget Committee of the Whole meeting.
Staff have been working to meet the one per cent target since it was first identified in June. The City is looking for additional savings through process improvements, reorganization and technology updates and increased revenue through user fees. In addition, the 2020 operating budget will include no new staff positions.
 
It is important to remember that of the total property tax Richmond Hill residents pay, only 27% of this is levied by the City of Richmond Hill. The majority of the total tax is levied (approximately 49%) by the Region of York and the remainder is levied by the school boards. Both of these organizations set their own budget. It is my understanding that the Region of York will not be imposing a similar cap to their budget this year, so while Richmond Hill’s increase will be capped at 1%, the total impact on the taxes paid by an individual residents will likely be higher than 1%.
 
5.  New Oak Ridges Library opened November 12
The City of Richmond Hill is excited to announce that the new Oak Ridges Library is opening to the public on Tuesday, November 12th. 
The new Oak Ridges Library is a civic landmark that reflects the natural elements and local history of the community, and its design has been inspired by its surroundings.  An official grand opening event will be planned for early in the new year.  Click  here for more information or  here to visit the Richmond Hill Public Library Website.
 
6. Richmond Hill’s Capital Budget Approved at Committee of the Whole
As mentioned in the opening section to this e newsletter, the Capital Budget was discussed at a recent Budget Committee of the Whole meeting and sent to the Council Meeting on December 18th for approval. 
The 2020 capital budget will focus on managing and renewing City assets and infrastructure to support a vibrant, sustainable municipality. Significant projects worth more than $1 million in the 2020 draft capital budget include:
* Road Overlay Program (asphalt repair) $4,300,000
* Beaver Creek Storm Pond A Construction $3,561,600
* Operations Centre – Roof Replacement $1,900,000
* Mitchell Storm Pond Construction $1,581,900
* Lake to Lake Trail Intersection Improvements (Phase 3) $1,515,800
* Ed Sackfield Arena – Slab Replacement $1,400,000
* Powell and Wright Road Rehabilitation $1,296,800
* Lennox Local Park Construction $1,188,400
As per the capital budget strategy set by Council, use of tax-supported reserve funds is limited to $14 million in 2020 to maintain the health of Richmond Hill’s reserve funds while Council continues with the Capital Sustainability Committee review process. Richmond Hill’s capital budget is also funded through development charges and grants including federal gas tax.
For more information please visit https://www.richmondhill.ca/en/find-or-learn-about/Budget.aspx. For the staff report related to the Capital Budget, the proposal to build a new Bocce Facility or my motion to upgrade a tennis court complex in Ward 4 visit https://pub-richmondhill.escribemeetings.com/Meeting.aspx?Id=bf18e41e-9a3f-46fd-9a4e-ac7294dd2502&Agenda=Agenda&lang=English&Item=8  and click on the links to the individual reports and documents.
 
7. Council Considers the recently adopted Real Estate Open House Sign Bylaw

I the spring of last year I proposed a motion to limit and control the Real Estate Open House Signs that seem to pop up in our Community. I worked with the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) to craft a bylaw that would meet the industry needs and the public expectations around these signs. Council passed this motion for a trial period but made a change that would disallow any Agent name or contact information on the signs effectively making them generic with only the address and time of the Open House. I did not agree with this change as it was made clear to us by TREB that generic signs are not legal due to provincial laws governing the Real Estate Industry that require the agent hosting the Open House and the contact information for that agent to be clearly identified on the signs. A staff report outlining a recommendation that Council adopt the originally proposed bylaw was put on the agenda for the November 6th Committee of the Whole Meeting but was pulled off the agenda by staff a few days before the meeting. At the Council meeting on November 20th a memo from staff will be considered by Council that staff needs more time to study the issue. I do not believe this relatively simple issue requires more study. It seems clear that some simple but clear changes to the bylaw would work to solve the problem by balancing the ability for agents to legally comply with local and provincial regulations and also allow our bylaw staff to easily identify signs that are illegal and to whom they belong. For an interesting article published about this issue please visit 

 
8. Council Revisits Changes to Council and Committee of the Whole Meeting Times
For the third time in the past year Council will be considering a time change to Richmond Hill’s Council and Committee of the Whole meeting times and frequency. I continue to believe that the current system of meeting at 9:30AM does not adequately serve the majority of the residents who may, from time to time, need to attend a meeting to speak about an important issue in our community. I have heard from a number of residents, as Council has experimented with various daytime meeting schedules, that the original system whereby Committee of the Whole meetings began at 4:30 and Council meetings were scheduled for 7:30 the week following the Committee of the Whole meetings, was an optimal balance for the needs of the community. This schedule was in place for many years previous to this term of Council and it was proven to give working residents a chance to attend a meeting late in the day and another chance to attend a Council meeting in the evening. It would be my preference to re-adopt these meeting times because I believe it would help to better promote citizen engagement. If you have thoughts on this matter that you would like to convey to myself or my Council colleagues please do so before the November 20th Council Meeting.