Season’s Greetings!

As we find ourselves in December of a very unprecedented year, I think we can all agree that we are, more than in past years, collectively in need of a reason to celebrate. While these holiday celebrations will need to look different this year, I hope that everyone still takes a moment to connect virtually with those that they hold dear. Along that line, like many families The West family is looking forward to celebrating our Christmas day family traditions by Zoom this year (on the bright side this beats the year we celebrated Christmas with no power or heat due to the 2013 Ice Storm).

To make our community just a bit more joyous, Richmond Hill is sponsoring an initiative called Light Up Richmond Hill that encourages residents to decorate their homes with lights this holiday season. I have already noticed many houses that have really gone all out and made our community just a bit more cheerful! Full details of this program are included below.

I also wanted to let residents know that the volunteer Richmond Hill Winter Carnival Committee is working on plans for a virtual Winter Carnival this year. Like so many well loved community events, we will not be able to host the Winter Carnival in person like it has been for more than 50 years, but our committee is working hard to keep the Winter Carnival spirit alive nonetheless. Details of these plans should be available in the next edition of this e newsletter.

I think we will also agree that as we look back on the year that was, we likely all have a common feeling that the pandemic of 2020 can’t be over soon enough, so we look with hope for a brighter 2021! I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you the best of the holiday season and a great New Year!

Making a positive difference to our corner of the world has always been my passion and motivation for being on Richmond Hill Council. On that note, Council recently approved a number of important motions for which I am particularly proud because they will help to make Richmond Hill an even more environmentally sustainable community.

Council passed a new Climate Change Framework that sets a path for Richmond Hill to reduce GHG emissions. The framework sets a mandated improved way of considering Council decisions by applying a “Climate Lens” to those decisions. This Framework was in no small part initiated by a motion that I put forward in February of this year to give staff specific direction in their efforts to reduce our collective GHG emissions. Most importantly, it sets the stage for a more coordinated effort to reduce GHG in Richmond Hill. On a related note, I look forward to a directions report for the Community Energy and Emissions Plan coming to Council on December 9th which will be a further step that we will take in making Richmond Hill more environmentally sustainable.

I was also proud that Council passed the Single Use Plastics Reduction Strategy. This motion was the result of a member motion that I introduced earlier this year to ask staff to research a recommendation to reduce the use of Single Use Plastics in concert with efforts from York Region, the Federal Government, and the Province of Ontario. The motion’s approval is a positive step in the right direction.

At that same Council meeting I attempted to further strengthen our commitment to reduce Single Use Plastics in the future, but was disappointed that council voted to not accept my further amendment intended to direct staff to continue to actively monitor and report back on future opportunities to further reduce single use plastics. This would have been an important addition to the motion because the legislative landscape for Single Use Plastics is changing with other levels of government adding, or about to add, overarching further regulations on single use plastics. It will be important for Richmond Hill to continue to closely monitor these changes to determine where opportunities for future further reduction will lie. Despite Council not accepting this amendment I will be on the lookout, as I expect staff to be as well, to find future opportunities.

There is ongoing work to continue on our path to become an even more sustainable community in Richmond Hill. I am proud of that progress and look forward to discovering more opportunities to further walk down this path in the future.

As always I welcome a call or an email from anyone if they have any comments or questions about information contained in this e newsletter or any other issue about our community. My email is david.west@richmondhill.ca and my mobile phone number is 416-346-3090.

Banner photo – Councillor West at this year’s drive through Santa Claus Parade courtesy of Chris Robart.