Yonge Bernard Key Development Area Plan – Update

In 2017 Council approved a Secondary Plan for the Yonge Bernard Key Development Area (KDA). This plan was consistent with the development permissions laid out in Richmond Hill’s Official Plan and met all obligations levied on Richmond Hill from the Province of Ontario and the Region of York. The 2017 KDA Plan was adopted by Council after a great deal of time and input from area residents and stakeholders. I was thankful for the input of many area residents. I do believe that while the plan generally represented more density than most residents would have wished for in their neighbourhood, it was an acceptable compromise given many factors including permissions outlined from the Province, Region and the Richmond Hill Official Plan.
Unfortunately this plan was appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal by a number of area developers shortly after being passed by Council. Subsequently, and perhaps more unfortunately, in 2019 a motion to further increase densities beyond the approved 2017 KDA Plan was passed by the current Richmond Hill Council.
As a result of the motion to increase density permissions, a new proposed plan will be presented to Council for debate on May 13th. I remain opposed to this new proposal as I do not think that the increases in height and density proposed in the plan are necessary or appropriate for the area.
The input that I have received from many residents whom I have spoken with over the years leading up to the creation of the 2017 KDA Plan, and more input now received from this newest increased density plan are consistent. Area residents have expressed that they understand that a reasonable level of development is acceptable but this proposed plan represents development permissions that are above that line and are not in line with their future vision of our community.
I have a number of specific concerns about the plan including the prospect of unacceptable increased levels of traffic while no new additional traffic and transit infrastructure has been proposed between the passing of 2017 KDA Plan and this time.
I am also concerned about increased densities and building heights from a maximum of 15 storeys in the 2017 KDA Plan to over 40 storeys in the new proposal.
It is important that we provide more choice in our collective inventory of more affordable forms of housing. I am very much in favour of helping to supply these more affordable types of housing but to that point I am not convinced this plan would achieve the expected outcome, or at least will not deliver any more than what would have been delivered in the 2017 KDA Plan and/or deliver it in the same time frame.
I have also sought input from a number of experts that feel that the very high density permissions contained in this plan may not be consistent with current market demand for this type of very high-rise development being proposed.
I believe that the 2017 KDA Plan would create a better balance for this area of Richmond Hill, and I also believe it would also create a more vibrant community that would be more respectful with the existing neighbourhoods in the area.
There is no doubt in my mind that our community will experience growth in the future. It is very important that we create plans for growth that balance the needs of the community with protection of existing neighbourhoods, that give Richmond Hill its character, while allowing for an appropriate level of development of our remaining lands.
I do not think that the additional density permissions contained in this current KDA proposal will accomplish this important goal.
To learn more about this plan please visit https://www.richmondhill.ca/en/find-or-learn-about/yonge-street-and-bernard-key-development-area.aspx. You can also read the staff report with all of the plan’s details at https://pub-richmondhill.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=32106. As always feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or comments.
Click on the link to read an article which appeared in The Liberal on April 30. https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/9964362-fuming-residents-flag-richmond-hill-council-s-secret-meeting/