David West
Richmond Hill Ward 4 Councillor
Monthly Newsletter
June 2020
Thank You Richmond Hill
As Richmond Hill begins the road to recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic I want to again thank all residents for contributing to this recovery. The Pandemic situation has been a trying time for all of us. I am thankful that we are now beginning to find ourselves in a situation where our lives can return to a more normal state than a few months ago.

I am under no illusions that the path to recovery will be easy or smooth, and it is more important than ever that we all continue to practice all the Public Health protocols consistently in order to allow us to continue on the path to recovery. To paraphrase Kingston's Chief Medical Officer of Health - "our fate is in all of our hands - so be sure to wash them!" I would continue to encourage everyone to stay well informed and diligent in our actions. Detailed and up to date Public Health information can always be found at www.york.ca/covid19 or www.richmondhill.ca/covid19 .

Below in this e newsletter are two specific reports about Richmond Hill's economic recovery efforts. Recover Richmond Hill is an Economic Development Task Force that has been formed to guide and support economic recovery for our businesses and citizens. The Task Force will present a final report to Council in the near future outlining actions Richmond Hill will take to support our small businesses during the recovery phase. I have been proud to serve on this committee. I am also proud to serve as the Council Liaison for the Richmond Hill Board of Trade. The Board or Trade continues to be an important organization that does great work helping and supporting our businesses during this unprecedented time.

Finally, Council also recently received a report from our staff outlining a framework entitled "From Recover to Thrive", that will guide Richmond Hill's recovery actions as a corporation. Like so many that I have spoken to lately, I am looking forward to moving Richmond Hill back to "Thrive"!

Also reported below in this newsletter is a summary of the actions that were taken by Council concerning the Yonge Bernard Key Development Area. I remain disappointed with the proposed plan to increase residential densities and building heights in this area. I also remain concerned about the implications of LPAT approving this proposed plan and the consequences that I suspect this will have for the specific area around Yonge and Bernard. I am further concerned about the possible precedent that approving these heights and densities could hold for other areas of the municipality.

On a brighter note I was pleased that Council passed my member motion to declare August 22nd as Flight of the Monarch Day. This day will celebrate the beginning of the migration of the Monarch Butterfly from its northern range in places like Richmond Hill to Mexico, where the species overwinters. The event is also another step that Richmond Hill has taken after signing the Mayor's Monarch Pledge and the Bee City Pledge to promote conservation efforts and public education about butterflies and pollinating insects and the important role that these species play in our lives.

Please feel free to contact me at any time by email ( david.west@richmondhill.ca ) 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!

workers in Richmond
Sincerely,
David West 
Ward 4 Councillor Richmond Hill
Cell 416-346-3090
Office 905-771-2480
Councillor Highlights
June 22-28 is Pollinator Week!
Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and birds, are important to the health of our community. They help plants produce seeds and the fruits they bear. It is estimated that 35 per cent of global food crop production relies on pollinators. As such these species are clearly important to the human species!

Richmond Hill is working to foster natural and built communities that support pollinators through our  Environment Strategy , our partnership with the  David Suzuki Foundation  and participation in the  Mayors’ Monarch Pledge  and  Bee City Canada  initiatives.

You can help by planting native wildflowers and flowering species at home (check out our Healthy Yards Program !) and by creating pollinator habitat through  community gardens .

To Learn more visit RichmondHill.ca/Pollinators
The Definitive Guide to Local Supplies of Personal Protective Materials
The Richmond Hill Board of Trade has assembled a great resource for businesses who are operating or about to legally open during this COVID-19 Pandemic. To view this resource see the link below.


Thank you to the  Richmond Hill Board  of Trade (for more info and resources from the RH Board of Trade visit rhbot.ca ) and the other York Chambers of Commerce for compiling the information.
 
Help Grow our Urban Tree Canopy
Trees provide many benefits to our community: improved air quality, shade and wildlife habitat, and higher property values. Despite challenges, Richmond Hill succeeded in increasing its tree canopy cover (the percentage of land covered by trees and shrubs) from under 25% in 2010 to almost 30% in 2016.
 
You can help our canopy cover continue to grow by taking advantage of the Backyard Tree Planting Program! A partnership between Richmond Hill, York Region and LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests), this program provides local expertise to help you select and plant the right trees and shrubs for your yard. 

LEAF offers Full Service Backyard Tree Planting, Do-it-Yourself Tree Planting, Native Garden Kits, and shrubs at subsidized rates. Staff have adjusted work procedures to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.

To find more information and to place an order, visit www.yourleaf.org or call 1-888-453-6504.
Richmond Hill Makes it Easier for Local Businesses to Sell Online
Richmond Hill has teamed up with ShopHERE powered by Google to help local businesses sell products and services online with ease. Small businesses and artists in Richmond Hill can now apply at www.digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere to have an online store built for them at no cost.
ShopHERE powered by Google was created to help independent businesses and artists build a digital presence and minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Google Canada announced a one million dollar investment to enable Digital Main Street to expand the program and help more businesses in municipalities across the country.

Google’s investment will also help more small businesses and artists receive the digital skills training needed to participate and thrive in the digital economy.

This partnership is part of Richmond Hill’s plan to help local businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Richmond Hill Council created the Recover Richmond Hill Task Force with participation from four levels of government as well as the local business associations to guide the comprehensive economic recovery efforts.

Richmond Hill recently hosted a webinar series to help local business prepare to reopen and recordings are available now at RichmondHill.ca/SBECwebinars . The series includes sessions on workspace planning, lead generation, employee safety, PPE and the economy as a whole.

For more information about how the City is helping local businesses, visit RichmondHill.ca/BusinessHelp or follow us on Twitter at @RH_EcDev.
Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts - a·P·art {of} presentation
We feel strongly that the Arts have the ability to nourish the soul and in times like these, we could all use a chance to be uplifted. With this in mind, we are pleased to launch our new online program a·P·art {of}.

While we remain apart we can still be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We can be part of an artistic community that embraces supporting each other through the positive impact of artistic expression.
Log onto Facebook every Thursday at 7:30pm for another exciting performance.
www.facebook.com/RHC PA . To listen to a message from Michael Grit, Manager of the RHCPA please click here .
Virtual Canada Day Celebrations
Join us for Richmond Hill’s first ever virtual Canada Day celebration!

To help keep our community safe and stop the spread of COVID-19, our in-person event is cancelled. We are excited to bring you a great online experience filled with entertainment and family-friendly activities!

When - Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Where - Right here at  RichmondHill.ca/CanadaDay ! Subscribe to "receive email updates" (below) for details.
 
Activities Include
  • Richmond Hill's Got Talent Showcase
  • Dan the Music Man
  • Fire Guy Show
  • Mighty Mike Show
  • The Dreamboats
  • By Chefanie Cooking Lessons
  • Hands on Exotics Animal Encounters
  • Interactive Dance Party
  • Artist-facilitated Craft Activities
  • Fireworks Simulation Show

For more information please visit the city's website by clicking here .
 
Richmond Hill Council News
Mackenzie Health Hospital Update
Mackenzie Health Hospital has always been an important part of our community and this has never been more apparent during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Council recently received a detailed presentation by hospital president Altaf Stationawala concerning the measures the hospital has taken to deal with COVID-19 and to ultimately help keep our community safe and healthy.

To hear CEO Altaf Stationwala's presentation to Council including a construction update on the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital please click here (the section containing the hospital presentation begins at timestamp 7:20 and ends at timestamp 31:31)

Also you can click on the link for an article from the Liberal newspaper.
Merging York Region Fire Departments
During Richmond Hill Council budget deliberations a few months ago, Council endorsed a motion to examine the possibilities of a merger between the various municipal fire departments in York Region. The study would examine operations and cost efficiencies that may be possible under a merger.

At the present time each municipality in York Region has its own Fire Department with the exception of Newmarket and Aurora who share one service called Central York Fire Service.

I was supportive of this study given the size of the relative costs associated to provide Fire and Emergency Services for Richmond Hill, and given the importance of these services to our community.

The idea of a merger has been studied in the past and has failed to gain any traction for a number of reasons. Presently it would seem that the possibility of merging the various departments has hit another roadblock as the Councils in Vaughan, King, and Markham have all voted against further examination of a merger of fire service in York Region.

In order to proceed with this study at the Region of York a majority of municipalities representing a majority of York residents would need to agree to the study, and given Vaughan and Markham's negative vote this threshold is not likely to be achieved.

York Region Fire Departments are currently working cooperatively in a number of areas of their operation and I will continue to advocate that we explore further options to gain more operational and cost efficiencies in the future. It is very important that each of our municipalities remain well protected and served by our Fire Departments, and this needs to continue to be our top priority.

To learn more about this issue you can read a good summary published in in York Region.com at the following link
Yonge Bernard Key Development Area Plan Update
The matter of the Yonge Bernard Key Development Area (KDA) proposed plan was considered at a Council meeting on May 13 th . The purpose of considering this proposed plan and the accompanying staff report was to give our staff direction and a position to defend at the upcoming Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing. This hearing is set to begin begin on July 2 nd . Given that a number of area developers/landowners appealed the 2017 KDA Plan to LPAT this tribunal will ultimately decide the fate of this plan.

During the Council Meeting on May 13th, I voiced my consistent and strong opposition to a staff recommendation to allow increased building heights and densities that would be well above and beyond those already approved by Council in the 2017 Yonge Bernard KDA Secondary Plan.

There was an extensive debate and a number of opposing views expressed by various Council members related to this topic at the Council meeting on May 13th. There was also a last minute in camera meeting called on May 14th related to this topic.

During the May 13th Council Meeting I stressed a number of points of opposition to the newly proposed plan.

These points include:
1. I have always believed that the 2017 KDA Plan was an acceptable compromise for the area and I have never perceived a need to change this plan at this time. Given that no new major traffic and transit infrastructure has been approved for the area since 2017 it is my view that it is inappropriate to allow significant increases in density with resulting increases in traffic volumes beyond the 2017 Plan.

2. In April last year Council rescinded a proposed plan for the area that called for buildings up to 37 storeys and increased density. It is inappropriate in my opinion to be endorsing this current proposed plan that calls for heights and densities that are at least as high if not higher than the plan Council rejected in April last year.

3. In the Official Plan the Bernard KDA is designated as the smallest of the three KDAs in Richmond Hill. Approving the heights and densities in this prosed plan will result in this KDA being out of line with the others and could, by default and without public input, effectively increase the heights and densities of the other two KDAs and the structure of the Official Plan (which Council is currently reviewing with public input planned).

4. I believe this proposed plan lacks sufficient lands designated for parkland. The value of parkland is especially evident during this COVID-19 Pandemic and is especially important in any area that has higher density and therefore less private green space available to its residents.

5. I have always understood that the 2017 KDA Plan met and/or exceeded all of our growth obligations and targets to the Province and the Region. I maintain that it is unnecessary to approve significant additional densities which is effectively being allowed in the proposed plan.

6. Finally and perhaps most importantly, this proposed plan is inconsistent with what is envisioned by residents who live in this area. I have spoken to many residents over the years and all of them understand that some intensification will happen in the future. However they have all told me the proposed density and heights of at least 40 storeys are entirely inconsistent with their expectations for their community. I totally agree with their concerns.

I maintain a belief that what is expected from our residents is a reasonable level of development that respects established local neighbourhoods, is in line with the existing and future infrastructure investments (especially transportation and transit), and is at a level that will add vibrancy to our community. Like many things in life, a balanced and reasonable approach is needed and “more” will not produce a better result but may produce a less desirable result.

On May 31 st over 100 residents attended a protest regarding this proposed plan. It is clear that this issue is important and I will continue to support their efforts to create the kind of community that they envision.

Additional Information
To read my blog post published prior to the May 13th meeting regarding my thoughts on the matter visit https://davidwest-richmondhill.ca/yonge-bernard-key-development-area-plan-2/

To watch a video of the May 13 th Meeting please visit - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqCN9_Z9AQA (the discussion on the KDA begins at timestamp 1:44. My comments can be heard beginning at time stamp 1:51 and again at 2:27

To view the staff report that Council considered at the May 13 meeting please visit https://pub-richmondhill.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=32323
Richmond Hill Develops COVID-19 Recovery Plan
Council received a presentation from Interim City Manager, Mary-Anne Dempster outlining a framework to guide the City’s Economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. The plan is aptly named "From Recovery to Thrive".

The five-phased approach aims to restore City services in a safe and responsive manner while embracing innovation and change.

Activities in each phase will follow provincial and public health guidelines. City facilities, programs and services will be adapted to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for staff and citizens.

For more information on the City’s business resumption framework, visit RichmondHill.ca/COVID19. and to read the report please visit http://richmondhill.ca/en/shared-content/resources/documents/City-of-Richmond-Hill-Resumption-Framework.pdf
Richmond Hill to Install Paid Parking for Non-Residents at Lake Wilcox Park
Council approved a plan to address some serious and persistent parking issues at Lake Wilcox Park. The plan includes paid parking for non-residents within the four parking lots that serve Lake Wilcox Park, additional wayfinding signage for drivers and pedestrians, and restricted parking on nearby residential streets.

The Park is one of Richmond Hill’s six destination parks and it attracts visitors from across Richmond Hill and beyond due to its unique combination of beautiful waterfront scenery and family-friendly amenities. These include the waterfront path, splash pad, skate park and beach volleyball courts. The immense popularity of the park has led to parking and traffic safety issues.

Paid parking is expected to launch in the coming months and will be in effect each year from April 1 to September 30. All vehicles will require a valid permit while parked within the four parking lots that serve the park: the lot at the splash pad, the north and south lots at the Oak Ridges Community Centre and the north gravel lot.

Once implemented, Richmond Hill residents will be able to obtain a free permit through
Parking.RichmondHill.ca for the four parking lots. Local-area residents who live on streets with restricted parking will be mailed an on-street parking permit which allows them to park within existing parameters. The new parking program will ensure visitors from outside Richmond Hill contribute to the costs associated with park safety and upkeep.
Yonge North Subway Extension on Track
Another milestone has been reached in the long process to bring the subway to Richmond Hill. The Province of Ontario and The Regional Municipality of York reached an agreement to advance the extension of the subway to Yonge St and Highway 7.

An announcement of the funding contribution for this project from the Federal government will be the next important step in this process. For more information please visit my website by clicking here .






National Indigenous History Month
In Canada June marks National Indigenous History Month. This month is an opportunity to reflect on the important contribution that all Indigenous people have made, and continue to make to our country. It is also an opportunity to reflect on a number of past injustices that Indigenous people have suffered during our history.

In recent years the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report was released outlining 94 recommendations to help heal the relationship between Indigenous people and Canada. One of the underlying themes in this report is to create a better understanding of the injustices that have happened in the past, and continue to happen to this day.

I had the pleasure to meet an Indigenous man named Bear Standing Tall and he has generously offered to share his extensive Indigenous Cultural Awareness Online Course free of charge during June.

I have taken this course and I would encourage you to do so as well. There is good information contained in this course and also an extensive list of what we can individually do to advance reconciliation in Canada.

As a proud Canadian I believe it is important that we all do what we can to move forward the goals that are outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final report. One of the best ways we can do this is to remain well informed about the issues.

To access this online course visit
https://www.bearstandingtall.com/

To learn more about National Indigenous History Month visit
https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1466616436543/1534874922512
Re-opening of Park Amenities in Richmond Hill
Richmond Hill is currently completing the safe re-opening of select park amenities in all of our 190 parks.

Most green spaces are now open to allow for activities such as playing catch, kicking a ball, flying a kite, exercising or stretching on a yoga mat and letting children run around. The Tower Hill Off-Leash Dog Area is also now open. Residents are asked to avoid bringing dog toys or bowls into the park, to bring their own hand sanitizer, and to use their own bags to pick up after their dog.

Updated signage outlining COVID-19 health and safety guidelines are now in place as amenities are opened up.

Residents are strongly encouraged to stay local and only use parks and trails in their own neighbourhood and with people from their own household. While visiting a park or trail, residents must continue to practice physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) from others and must not congregate in groups, unless they live together. If a resident arrives at park, trail or amenity that is crowded, they are advised to wait until there is enough space to physically distance or return at another time.

The following park amenities will continue to be closed: playgrounds, outdoor exercise equipment, splash pads, washrooms and clubhouses. The City will work to re-open these once the Provincial emergency order has been lifted and/or amended. In addition, organized team sports such as soccer, baseball, football and basketball will not
be permitted as they don’t allow for physical distancing. Permits for soccer and baseball diamonds will not be issued until further notice. Community centres and other City facilities remain closed to the public.

For updates, residents can subscribe to RichmondHill.ca/COVID19 .


Flight of the Monarch Day
When I was a child we would see many Monarch butterflies each summer. My bother and I used to raise and release dozens of these incredible creatures each summer.

However, the Monarch Butterfly was on the verge of extinction a few years ago. The numbers of Monarchs overwintering in Mexico became dangerously low in the winter of 2013 and there was a real and imminent danger that this iconic and miraculous species was in danger of disappearing.

I continue to be proud of the work that Richmond Hill has done to promote Monarch Butterfly and pollinating insect conservation. These efforts have become more focused since 2016 when Council adopted my member motion to sign the Mayor's Monarch Pledge and later my motion for Richmond Hill to be designated as a Bee City.

Over the years Richmond Hill has planted almost 2000 milkweed plants on public land and has promoted plantings on private property through programs like Healthy Yards and the Mill Pond Splash. Richmond Hill's efforts have also included the restoration of almost 50 acres of land with native trees, shrubs and flowering species. We have also hosted many public programs aimed at educating people about Monarch butterflies and other pollinating species. Finally last fall during my first annual Ward 4 Richmond Hill Ecofest, Richmond Hill also partnered with the David Suzuki Foundation's Butterflyway Project to plant a native plant garden at the Mill Pond.

The efforts from Richmond Hill and other North American municipalities are paying off for the Monarch Butterfly. The species' recovery is still fragile and greater efforts to protect and create habitat as well as more public awareness of the Monarch Butterfly are needed to keep moving forward.

To help keep this momentum, Council recently passed my member motion to declare August 22nd Flight of the Monarch Day. This is an initiative that is being spear headed locally by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority and will feature activities for families to enjoy. These activities will be hosted by Richmond Hill and TRCA staff (some of the activities will be performed virtually). Stay tuned for details of these activities!

The motion was amended by Council to also allow staff to be able to distribute up to 200 milkweed and native plants to residents who wish to receive them. Details of this initiative will be made available soon.

Member motion as submitted
Flight of the Monarch Day - August 22, 2020
Submitted by: Councillor West

Whereas The Monarch Butterfly is one of the most iconic and cherished insects in North America. The Monarch’s epic 5,000-kilometre migration from eastern Canada to the forests of central Mexico begins in late August each year.

Whereas in 2013, the eastern population of the Monarch Butterfly dropped by 95 per cent, the smallest recorded population since the mid-1990s. Since 2013, the population has rebounded, thanks in part to the collective efforts of thousands of individuals, groups and communities across Canada, but the Monarch’s future remains in serious peril.

Whereas in 2016 Richmond Hill was one of the first municipalities in Canada to sign the National Wildlife Federation Mayor’s Monarch Pledge thus providing a leadership role in helping to save the Monarch Butterfly. Since 2016 many other North American municipalities have signed this pledge.

Whereas Richmond Hill’s commitment to preserve habitat, provide public education and to take action to help Monarchs and other insect species recover and thrive was further strengthened in 2018 when Council endorsed a motion to designate Richmond Hill as a Bee City in accordance with the Bee City Canada program.

Whereas a number of organizations lead by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority through an organization known as Monarch Nation, are working together to take action to preserve and protect Monarch Butterflies and are asking citizens and municipalities to join them by proclaiming a day in late August at the start of the annual Monarch migration period to specifically recognize this iconic species.

Whereas proclaiming Flight of the Monarch Day is an opportunity for Richmond Hill citizens to join with others to celebrate the growing movement to protect monarch butterflies and the astonishing phenomenon of their migration as their epic journey southward begins.

Therefore be it resolved that to further strengthen our commitment to provide public education, and take action to create a healthy environment for Monarch Butterflies and other pollinating insect species, that August 22, 2020 will be proclaimed Flight of the Monarch Day in Richmond Hill.

To View the Mayor's Monarch Pledge and the Bee City Pledge please click here .

Richmond Hill Reports 2019 successes in Greening the Hill Strategy
Richmond Hill has a positive history of environmental stewardship and leadership. I have been proud of the work that our community has collectively taken.

Richmond Hill is blessed with a rich natural heritage of green and natural spaces. We are especially fortunate to have a significant part of our community existing on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

With this blessing comes a responsibility to be good stewards of our natural environment. This is not always an easy task given the pressures that our community faces as we grow.

A number of years ago Richmond Hill Council passed our community's environmental strategy entitled Greening the Hill. Each year our staff reports on the progress of implementing the actions contained in this strategy that make our community more green. To view the Greening the Hill document please visit https://www.richmondhill.ca/en/shared-content/resources/documents/660-environment-strategy-public-guide.pdf

At the same Council meeting Council also approved an Urban Forestry Management Plan. This is also an important plan that will guide our actions in enhancing and protecting our urban forest. To view this document please visit https://pub-richmondhill.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=33124

Please visit my website for more information and initiatives.

Planning Application received for 10684 and 10692 Yonge Street
Richmond Hill Planning staff has received an application for 10684 and 10692 Yonge Street (on Yonge St. between Oxford St. and Elgin Mills Rd.) proposing a 28 storey apartment building on the subject lands with a residential density measured by Floor Space index of 4.15.

The Official Plan for this land allows for a maximum of 15 storeys and a Floor Space index of 2 so the application as proposed, significantly exceeds the limits set out in the Official Plan.
 
I share a number of concerns with area residents about this proposed development. The limits set out in the Official Plan are important to respect in any application. These limits guide development in a given area but they also ensure that both local neighbourhoods and the wider community are protected by ensuring roads and other infrastructure in the wider area function properly.

The process moving forward will include a thorough analysis of the application by our Planning and Transportation Engineering staff as well as an opportunity for the residents of the area to make their views known to Council as well as myself.
 
A Council Public Meeting where the public would be formally invited to provide comment to all of Council regarding the application has not yet been set but it is expected that the meeting may be called in the early fall. At that time I would very much encourage everyone to make their views known to Council by speaking at the meeting and/or writing your thoughts to the Clerk at  clerks@richmondhill.ca  so that all of Council can be aware of your concerns. 
 
After the Council Public Meeting all comments from the public and from members of Council will be given back to our Planning Staff for their analysis along with all the details of the proposed development. A staff report and recommendation to Council will then be presented at a future Council meeting where Council will make a decision to approve the proposal or deny it.

It would be my hope and expectation that a significantly modified and more appropriate application that respects the Official Plan may be able to be negotiated with the applicant instead of this current one. 

Please feel free to each out to me if you have any questions or comments.

Upcoming Events
Strides for Stroke to benefit Mackenzie Health

POSTPONED UNTIL OCTOBER 17


Contact Me
Phone:  905-771-2480
Mobile Phone:  416-346-3090
225 East Beaver Creek Rd, Richmond Hill,
ON L4B 3P4, Canada. 905-771-8800
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