We have all been fully immersed in a very difficult and trying time in Richmond Hill but I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe while following the rules put in place to protect all that we value. In the West household we have been working from home and have made many major changes to our daily routines as so many of us have done. On that note, I wanted to offer my heartfelt thank you to all residents of Richmond Hill that have been doing their part, in ways that are big, and in ways that are more subtle, but just as important to help our community navigate these uncharted waters. The sacrifices that we have all made are substantial and real, and from recent reports, are working.
While we are not in safe waters yet according to our medical experts, there is some early indication that the end of at least the first wave of this storm is on the horizon. The numbers of new COVID-19 infections in Canada and York Region are currently showing promising downward trends and the Ontario government has begun discussing the procedures that we will follow to slowly and carefully reopen our economy in the near future.
There has been some concern about when this reopening will begin and what it will look like, and I am confident that these questions will become clearer as time progresses over the coming days. Richmond Hill will be carefully monitoring the daily Regional, Provincial, and Federal announcements in order to appropriately respond.
Richmond Hill Economic Development staff have used the time wisely during the past weeks to plan for what we need to do to support the economic recovery. Recently Council approved and I was appointed to the Recover Richmond Hill Task Force. This task force is designed to take input from our business community, provincial and federal levels of government, our Economic Development Staff and our Council to give much needed support to our local businesses and ultimately help our collective economy to recover as quickly and efficiently as possible. The first meeting of Recover Richmond Hill happened this week and I am excited to get to work on our economic recovery!
Council and staff have also been very busy over the past few weeks with all that is going on in the community. I have spent many hours more than usual communicating with residents and businesses and responding to some unprecedented needs directly related to COVID-19. There are still many urgent matters that need attention and I want to assure everyone that we will be focussing on all that needs to be done to respond, keep us all safe and recover. Richmond Hill Council has continued to hold remote Council meetings since March when the COVID-19 shutdowns began, and has thus been able to address important issues as they arrive.
I am not personally fond of remote meetings they are unfortunately a necessity under the current situation. Many decisions need to be made to keep us moving forward however I will continue to take the position that some issues that are not particularly time sensitive and/or require significant public input should be delayed until the public can participate live and in person. Even under these extreme circumstances, I believe we need to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that public input is effectively received and properly considered.
An issue that is unfortunately going ahead at this time is the consideration by Council of a proposed revision to the Yonge Bernard Key Development Area (KDA) Secondary Plan. It was my hope to have consideration of this proposal delayed until the fall when we would at least hopefully be back to a more semi-normal, if not normal time. However it would appear that the issue will be considered at the May 13th Council meeting. This plan is a controversial one in the community and I have specific concerns about the significant increases in density proposed for this area over and above the original Council approved 2017 KDA Plan. For more details of this proposal see the article below.
There continues to be a great deal of rapidly changing information that we will all need to keep in focus during the coming weeks. Staying well informed is the best way to help everyone make wise decisions and to keep yourself and your family safe. Below in the Council News section of this newsletter there is a list of four websites that are updated frequently and will be able to supply all the crucial information that is needed. As always, I am also happy to hear from any residents that have questions, comments or concerns.
Please feel free to contact me at any time by email ([email protected]) or by phone at 416-346-3090. I wish everyone all the best and look forward to being able to speak to residents face to face soon!
Banner Photo – City of Richmond Hill Council Members and Staff say “Thank You” to the residents, businesses, and essential service workers in Richmond Hill.