Richmond Hill is a growing community and that is generally a good thing. Growth provides advantages in a number of areas including new or expanded economic opportunities that can benefit the community. I would add that growth can also provide exciting opportunities that allow businesses to offer an increased range of products and services to our community that we can all enjoy. For example, great restaurants and retailers will only survive in the right built environment and with a minimum population density threshold to sustain them. A more walkable community from the perspective of safety but also from the perspective of having great destinations to walk to, are among the many available benefits of growth and good urban planning. I think all of us can agree these benefits are really exciting and desirable.
However, as with most things in life, growth and change also have the potential to create challenges that must be addressed. In Richmond Hill we currently have an opportunity to proactively address the challenges of growth and proactively take advantage of the potential opportunities at the same time. Our Official Plan (OP), which is a foundational document that guides everything that happens in a municipality, is currently up for review by our Planning Staff and Council.
The current OP was passed in 2010. Since that time a great deal has changed in our community and in relation to the provincial planning regime. As such it is very appropriate to review, revisit, and make any necessary adjustments to our Official Plan at this time.
The Official Plan provides a vision for what we collectively want our community to become in the short and long term future. As such it is very important that all of us have our voices heard during this process. Richmond Hill will be hosting a series of Public Open Houses/Meetings starting on February 18th and I would urge everyone to take this opportunity to add their voice to what we want to see for our home community going forward. I have provided full details for this meeting and how to register below in this e newsletter.
As with any major community decisions, there will be some difficult conversations that need to take place during this process. The balance that needs to be achieved that addresses the right future level of development in our community for example, is a challenging one but its important. Richmond Hill will grow, but the question that needs to be addressed is – where and by how much?
How do we design and direct future growth to provide the maximum benefit to the community while reducing any less desirable side effects? How do we provide development that maximizes public investment in transit, roads, sewers, amenities like libraries and fire protection, and a myriad of other considerations related to financial efficiency? How do we ensure that our natural environment will be enhanced and improved? How do we provide enough parks and natural areas for all of us to sustainably enjoy? How do we help facilitate a healthy and sustainable economy while protecting and creating new and exciting places for businesses to set up and thrive? These are only a sampling of questions that need to be answered during the OP update process.
In a nutshell, how do we provide a livable, vibrant, healthy community that we all want? The task before us is exciting but it is not easy. It’s a task that, as an elected community representative, I think about a lot. It’s a task that we are embarking upon, and I invite our community to come along and help shape our future.
On February 18th the Council and Staff of Richmond Hill will host a virtual Open House/Meeting where we will hear about some of the preliminary ideas and directions on this topic while listening to community feedback on these ideas. At the end of this process a plan and vision that we can all share is the goal and that is why it is important that we encourage citizen participation.
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 [email protected] and my mobile phone number is 416-346-3090.
Banner photo – Despite the lockdown there is lots to do this winter. Richmond Hill continues to offer activities for the whole family to enjoy while remaining safe and adhering to all COVID safety protocols. See www.richmondhill.ca/winterfun for complete details.