David West
Richmond Hill Ward 4 Councillor
Monthly Newsletter
January 2021
Happy New Year
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Last Year was a very challenging year for Richmond Hill from a number of perspectives, and I am sure we can all agree that we look forward to a brighter New Year ahead of us.

We continue to face increasing challenges in Richmond Hill due to COVID-19. Infection numbers in our community, in York Region, and in Ontario are rising. As a result of this alarming trend, the capacity for our hospitals to be able to provide important medical help is now at, or above capacity. This fact can have dire consequences to our friends, neighbours and family and we must do our part to ensure we stop the spread of COVID-19. To respond to this pandemic crisis the Ontario government has unveiled stricter Public Health measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. It is crucial that each of us do our part to adhere to the spirit and the letter of the law regarding these new measures.

I have heard some controversy about the details of the present provincial orders but in my mind, at this point in time, the message is clear. We all need to stay home as much as possible, follow all Public Health protocols, including washing hands, and practicing physical distancing. These practices are our best hope in getting the infection rate under control and keeping COVID out of our homes, our Long Term Care facilities, and our businesses and perhaps most critically, out of our hospitals. Preventing new infections will help keep sick patients out of hospitals and allow those that need urgent medical services to get those services in a timely manner. There is more information on specific details of the new provincial order below in this e newsletter.

There is some much needed good news on the horizon. Several vaccines for COVID-19 are now available and are being administered. As the vaccination plan rolls out there is much reason for optimism. In the meantime, until we have a substantial part of our population vaccinated, we must all take exceptional care to stay healthy and keep our fellow citizens healthy as well.

The on-going provincial Public Health restrictions continue to exert extra pressure on our Richmond Hill staff as they do their best to deliver the services that our community needs and expects. I appreciate the important work our staff does for our community. I want to continue to thank them for the great work they have done so far and for the great work that they will do in the future for all of us in our community. The efforts and dedication of our staff along with the first responders, medical staff, and frontline staff in a number of crucial businesses that serve our collective needs, are truly heroic.

As always, below in this e newsletter I have reported on a number of important community issues and items of community news. In particular, a complete development application for the lands at the corner of Arnold Crescent and Major Mackenzie Drive has been received by Richmond Hill Planning Staff. This application represents a proposal that is far larger than what I feel is appropriate for this site. I have provided further information below regarding the specifics of this application and the public process that will unfold over the following months to deal with this proposal.

There is also information below about this year's Richmond Hill Winter Carnival and how our volunteer committee has been hard at work for the past several months to deliver what will be the first ever virtual Winter Carnival. Much will be different at the Richmond Hill Winter Carnival this year, but our committee feels that regardless of the pandemic, we should still celebrate winter as the Carnival has always helped Richmond Hill to do, but in a different way this year - together but apart! All details of the Richmond Hill Winter Carnival plans are contained below in this e newsletter.

Finally as anyone who has driven on Yonge Street lately has seen that the VIVA Bus Rapidway is now open. It has been a very long time coming, with seemingly endless construction over the past years, but the result of this important transit project can now been seen with the buses now running. Thank you to local Ward 4 resident and photographer Chris Robart for a stunning photographic depiction of the Bus Rapidway at night in the banner photo of this e newsletter above.

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 - Night shot of one of Richmond Hill's new Yonge Street vivaNext Rapidway bus terminals. Photo Courtesy of Ward 4 Resident Chris Robart.
Sincerely,
David West 
Ward 4 Councillor Richmond Hill
Cell 416-346-3090
Office 905-771-2480
Councillor Highlights
Richmond Hill is Advising Residents to be Safe and Stay Off of Frozen Bodies of water
The City of Richmond Hill is advising everyone to stay off of lakes, rivers, ponds and stormwater ponds, as the ice may not be safe.
 
Even if the weather has been cold, other factors such as water flow, fluctuating water levels and snow on the ice, can contribute to unsafe conditions. In addition, regardless if the ice at the water's edge seems safe, it can get weaker as you get further out.
 
Skating is prohibited at all Richmond Hill stormwater ponds and lakes such as, Lake Wilcox and Bond Lake.
 
If someone falls through the ice, call 9-1-1. Do not put yourself in danger. Throw a flotation device, rope, extension cord, ladder or long pole to hold onto. If they manage to get out, try to dry them off and keep them warm until emergency personnel arrive.
 
Outdoor skating and recreational opportunities in Richmond Hill
 
• Richmond Green Skate Trail is open for skating. Pre-registration is required. Reservations are available to Richmond Hill residents only.
• City staff are working on a plan to open Mill Pond later this winter if ice conditions and provincial COVID-19 restrictions permit.
• The City is also expecting to open outdoor skating rinks at Ozark Park, Rouge Crest Park, Crosby Park and Town Park later this winter if the weather and provincial COVID-19 restrictions permit.

 
• Residents looking for outdoor recreational opportunities are encouraged to go for a walk in a winter wonderland or try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at any of the City’s incredible parks and trails.

Visit RichmondHill.ca/WinterFun for details.
Changes In response to New Provincial Public Health Orders
The Ontario government has issued a stay-at-home order now in effect, which requires everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.
 
As a result, residents should be aware of the following:
 
·       All City facilities remain closed to the public, but residents can access many City services online or by phone.
·        Waste bins will not be available for purchase online or in person until further notice.
·        The garbage limit remains at three items per garbage collection day. Garbage tags for items over the limit can be purchased online for delivery by mail.
·        Richmond Green skate trail remains open for pre-registered skating, but hours of operation will be reduced. Beginning Thursday, January 14, the skate trail will close at 7:30 p.m. and the 8 to 8:45 p.m. and 9:15 to 10 p.m. skate times will be cancelled. Registered participants affected by the cancellations will be notified by phone.
·        Mill Pond is closed for skating until further notice. Residents are reminded that skating is prohibited at all stormwater ponds and lakes such as Lake Wilcox and Bond Lake. Violators will be fined.
·        Tennis courts and Pickleball courts are closed.
 
Gathering limits
Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. Public health officials advise that residents should avoid social gatherings and limit close contacts to the people you live with.
 
Staying active during lockdown
 
Parks, playgrounds, off-leash dog areas and trails remain open for walking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and other winter activities. City staff are working on expanding the number of parks and trails that receive winter maintenance to allow residents to get fresh air and exercise. Note that winter walking and hiking trails are slippery when snow and ice are present, so proceed with caution.
 
Residents are strongly encouraged to stay local and only use parks and trails in their own neighbourhood and with people from their own household. Please continue to practice physical distancing, wear a mask if distancing isn’t possible and do not congregate in groups of more than five, unless you live together.
 
We’ve got virtual programs and at-home resources for all ages including fitness, arts, theatre, astronomy and more, so residents can keep their mind and body active with us at home.
 
Registration for virtual programs is open at RichmondHill.ca/RecGuide. Visit RichmondHill.ca/StayHome for a list of parks, trails and at-home resources.
 
Shop online
Residents are encouraged to limit trips into the community by shopping online as much as possible. Support our small businesses and restaurants by shopping local online or for curbside pickup. Visit RichmondHill.ca/ShopLocal for business directories and more information.
 
Enforcement
Community Standards Officers are patrolling the City to enforce provincial COVID-19 regulations and any resident and/or business not in compliance could be fined.
 
Help keep our community safe
Residents are further reminded that you can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by doing the following:
 
·        Maintain physical distancing of at least two metres from others
·        Wear a mask or face covering indoors, as well as outdoors if you cannot physical distance
·        Wash your hands thoroughly and often
·        Stay home if you’re sick, even with mild symptoms
·        Download the COVID Alert app
 
Updates and information on the City’s response to COVID-19, including a complete list of what’s open and closed, is available online at RichmondHill.ca/COVID19
The 53rd Richmond Hill Winter Carnival goes Virtual for 2021

The 53rd Richmond Hill Winter Carnival will take a different form in February 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns, but volunteer organizers are still planning a celebration of winter in Richmond Hill, as we’ve been doing for the past 52 years!

The celebration will be virtual; encouraging families to enjoy winter activities and carnival traditions, while staying safe.

Watch in coming weeks for details of a fun family Winter Carnival Scavenger Hunt, the traditional Children’s Colouring Contest, plus a youth video challenge, helping high school students earn their volunteer hours.
 
The Scavenger Hunt will feature challenges which can be done at home such as building a snowman or snow fort, skating on an outdoor rink, or making a collage of paper snowflakes – all while adhering to York Region Public Health directives. Prizes will be awarded to family teams which complete the most number of challenges or are the most creative!

The elementary Children’s Colouring Contest posters will be posted on our winter carnival website, and can be downloaded and printed by teachers or parents for their children to colour. Completed submissions can be returned to our carnival committee via our website.

For high school students needing to earn community volunteer hours, there’s a creative way to do so, through our Winter Carnival Youth Video Challenge, helping to keep the winter carnival spirit alive. Students can create a short video, no longer than three minutes, in tribute to our winter carnival traditions. You can interview a member of your family, a longtime carnival volunteer or share your family’s favourite carnival memories.
 
Our volunteer organizing committee will post these videos on our website for the community to enjoy and to help keep the warmth and fun of winter carnival alive this year.

And yes, for avid carnival button collectors, there will be a 53rd annual Ookpik keepsake winter carnival button, too! (Stay tuned to our website to find out how you can receive your button.)

All details on how you can celebrate our 2021 Richmond Hill Winter Carnival will be posted on our website:
wintercarnival.net and our Facebook page
TRCA: Winter Online Learning Opportunities and Programs 
Join Toronto and Region Conservation Authority's winter activities online!

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has new e-Learning resources available this winter, along with engaging online seminars, family programs, and volunteer opportunities! 

TRCA has always been a great supporter of our local environment and environmental education. During the COVID pandemic these educational opportunities continue with online offerings. I would encourage everyone to check them out!

To learn more and to sign up please click the link https://mailchi.mp/trca/community-learning-jan-934622?e=06985f7e27
Ward 4 Community Conversations Series - Community Safety and Neighbourhood Watch
The COVID-19 Pandemic has prevented us from meeting live and in person in large groups like we have done in the past. However, important community conversations are still needed.

Throughout 2021 I intend to host a series of these conversations through virtual town hall meetings. The focus of these meetings will be on a range of topics that are important to the community.

We are presently working on our first meeting in February related to Community Safety and the Neighbourhood Watch Program which is run as a partnership between the community and the York Regional Police.

Please contact me at david.west@richmondhill.ca if you are interested in receiving details, once they are announced, about any of these meetings. Alternatively you can visit my website events page for the details of this meeting and future meetings at https://davidwest-richmondhill.ca/events/

Join Me - Virtual Coldest Night of the Year Fundraiser
Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) is an event happening across the country to help raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger.
 
For the third year the local agency that provides local care for the homeless, MOSAIC Interfaith Out of the Cold, www.miotc.ca has been part of this charity walk held on the third Saturday in February.
The Mosaic Interfaith Out of the Cold Program provides safe refuge, warm hospitality, and emergency shelter in York Region to the homeless or those in need of food/clothing. Overnight shelters are operated by various interfaith communities on different nights of the week from November to March.
Despite popular belief, homelessness can affect anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, or status. It is not just a problem affecting drug users or alcoholics, but anyone can face poverty and homelessness during difficult financial hardships. Out of the Cold has improved the lives of many who find themselves on the street during difficult times.

This year, MIOTC has joined with Blue Door Shelters www.bluedoor.ca to meet the unique needs of vulnerable individuals, Blue Door offers three emergency housing locations, second stage housing to provide longer-term supports, and job training through Construct. The two organizations are joining forces both for this event and to better serve the needs of the homeless here in York Region.
The pandemic has meant the event will need to be virtual. The need is even greater this year. The costs for keeping everyone safe in the shelters has multiplied. The need of the individuals who find themselves homeless is greater. With so much shut down people who are homeless have lost many of the places they could retreat to.
 
If you believe it is wrong that people in our community should not have a warm place to sleep, food, washroom facilities, and the interaction with caring people, please support Coldest Night of the Year. Join a team, create a team, just donate, or sponsor. Coldest Night of the Year 2021 - Richmond Hill (cnoy.org)
5th Annual Maple Syrup Festival - SAVE THE DATE!
One of my favourite times of year is spring. In Canada, along with the coming of spring is Maple Syrup season. For the past 4 years I have hosted our Richmond Hill Ward 4 Maple Syrup Festival.

This well loved community event has been enjoyed by many residents over the years but this year we will not be able to gather for a live and in person event. Planning is however underway for a modified version of the 5th Annual Maple Syrup Festival that will provide fun for the whole family and make it possible for us to celebrate together but apart!

The Maple Syrup Festival will be a virtual experience this year. Stay tuned for updates. We hope you can join us to celebrate spring as a community. Please visit my website by clicking here for more information.
Mentors Needed
January is Mentoring Month!   If you’ve ever had a mentor or been a mentor - at work, at school or in your life - then you know that mentoring can change lives. Mentoring amplifies relationships, learning, and career opportunities. Over 15,000 young people across Canada are waiting for a mentor, someone just like you.

Visit becomeamentor.ca to learn more. Visit the AMPLIFY Mentoring video here
The Village of Richmond Hill Business Improvement Area
Shop Local Prize Draw Contest
Residents who shop 5 BIA member stores over a 2-week period are entered into The Village of Richmond Hill Business Improvement Area (BIA) Shop Local Prize Draw Contest.
 
How to Win:
- Shop 5 BIA member stores over a 2-week period.
- Email 5 receipts to info@richmondhillbia.com
with your name & number.
- Participants are entered into the Prize
Draw.
- Draw will occur end of February 2021.
- Participating stores are found at: https://richmondhillbia.com/#business-directory
Contest closes: February 15, 2021
 
Prizes: 1 of 5 Gift Certificates ($200 value) to a BIA member store of Your Choice.
 
Curb-side Pickup & Takeout Available – at many BIA stores.
 
Shop Local Richmond Hill!
 

Subscribe to Mailing List: https://richmondhillbia.com/events-gallery/
 
 
Richmond Hill Council News
Proposed Development at Major Mackenzie Drive West and Arnold Crescent
A revised and significantly more dense development application has been submitted by the owner of the lands at Major Mackenzie and Arnold Crescent known municipality as 129-147 Arnold Crescent.

This application replaces the one that Richmond Hill Planning Staff received previously. The new proposal consists of 4 apartment buildings (10, 12, 14 and 19 storeys in height) with at-grade townhouse dwelling units. The proposal includes a total of 790 dwellings units, 63,102 square metres of Gross Floor Area (GFA), a Floor Space Index (FSI) of 2.35, a total of 838 parking spaces and vehicular access from Major Mackenzie Drive and Arnold Crescent.

I am very concerned by the size and scale of this application. In its current form it is significantly larger than what is allowed under Richmond Hill’s current Official Plan. I do not believe this proposed development is appropriate for the neighbourhood for a number of reasons.  

I will be working with our Planning Staff, area residents, and the applicant, to achieve significant reductions in the density and significant changes to the built form so that it would represent a much better fit for the existing and well established neighbourhood. As with all community matters it is important that the public is well informed as the process proceeds, and as always I will continue to work toward keeping the public informed.

A process will be followed for this application that includes opportunities for citizen participation and input. As we are at the beginning of this process dates for a Council Public Meeting to solicit comments from the neighbourhood has not yet been announced. In the mean time I am happy to hear your thoughts on this matter by phone (416-346-3090) or by email (david.west@richmondhill.ca). I will be hosting a Neighbourhood Meeting at some point in the future so please stay tuned for the details of this meeting date.

I will work to keep neighbourhood residents informed as this process progresses by publishing updates in this monthly e newsletter.
Powell Street and Wright Street Construction Update
Due to the delay in obtaining utility locates, the contractor was not able to commence the construction in Fall 2020 as originally planned.

As a result, the construction start date has been deferred to Spring 2021. Further updates will be provided in advance of the new construction start date. Please visit https://www.richmondhill.ca/en/find-or-learn-about/capital-projects.aspx and my website https://davidwest-richmondhill.ca/powell-street-and-wright-street-reconstruction-2/ for updates and more information.
Community Energy and Emissions Plan
Richmond Hill Council moved towards the final steps in passing our Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP). A directions report for CEEP was considered and endorsed by Council in December. The direction given to staff was the goal of significantly reducing our Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Specifically the direction was "That the Draft Community Energy & Emissions Plan be prepared based on a proposed reduction target of Net Zero GHG emissions by 2050". This is an ambitious goal and one that is attainable.

To view the Staff Report SRPI.20.030 Interim Report on the Community Energy & Emissions Plan please click this link https://pub-richmondhill.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=37462

The staff has solicited a great deal of citizen feedback in the formulation of this plan up to this point and to those residents that gave their time and added their voice to the plan - Thank you!

The final CEEP plan will come forward to Council in the near future.

For more information visit the city's website https://eservices.richmondhill.ca/ceep/
Windham Parkette Bridge and Playground Improvements
Plans are underway for improvements to the playground and pedestrian bridge at Windham Parkette located at 60 Naughton Drive.

Scope of the project: 
• Replace playground equipment and swings
• Replace pedestrian bridge
• Remove sand safety surfacing and instal
engineered wood fiber
• Replace subdrainage system
• Install new site furniture (Bench, Trash
Receptacle, Park Sign)
• Add segment of new concrete play curb
• Planting, sodding and site restoration

Comments from the public were accepted up to Friday January 8, but please continue to forward your comments to me if you missed the deadline. Please visit
RichmondHill.ca/ParksDesign and scroll down for more information. To view the Public Consultation Notice visit my website by clicking on the link https://davidwest-richmondhill.ca/windham-parkette-bridge-and-playground-improvements/
Expanded Permissions for Additional Residential Units (Secondary Suites)
At the December 2nd Council Public Meeting residents were invited to comment on changes mandated by the Provincial Government that compel municipalities to allow zoning permissions for secondary suites (basement apartments etc.) in residential areas.

This change would expand the availability of more forms of affordable housing and is in keeping with the general principals of Richmond Hill’s wider strategy of increasing housing that is affordable to more people.

I am quite interested in hearing from the public on this issue because I believe this is an idea that has potential to benefit our community. However to realize this potential we must also take the opportunity to get the details right and community input is important to getting this right.

The number of members of the public that participated in this meeting was surprisingly low and I am concerned about that. No decisions were made at this Public Meeting so there is still an opportunity for residents to provide comment, including a survey that can be found at


An article by Sheila Wang appeared in the December 14 Liberal. To read it please click the link https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/10285056-richmond-hill-considers-allowing-granny-flats-to-gently-increase-density-/
NOW OPEN - Yonge Street Rapidway in Richmond Hill
Welcome to your new rapidway! The Yonge Street rapidway brings bus rapid transit in dedicated lanes to Richmond Hill and is the last 6.5 kilometres of the 34-kilometre first phase of York Region's rapid transit network. As the population continues to grow, these new travel options are helping everyone make connections in Richmond Hill, York Region and beyond.

What you need to know:

  • Riders can now board Viva in the centre lane rapidway at any of the seven new vivastations: Bantry/Scott, 16th/Carrville, Weldrick, Major Mackenzie, Elgin Mills, Bernard and 19th/Gamble.
  • The rapidway connects to Bernard Terminal, Richmond Hill Centre Terminal, regional rail at Langstaff GO Station, and bus routes along Highway 7 in Richmond Hill, Markham and Vaughan. It will also connect to the future Yonge North Subway Extension which will extend the TTC's Line 1 subway from Finch Avenue along Yonge Street up to Highway 7.
  • Buses headed north on Yonge will connect to the rapidway in Newmarket from Savage Road/Sawmill Valley Drive, which meets up with the Davis Drive rapidway and offers connections to Newmarket Bus Terminal, regional rail at Newmarket GO Station, Southlake Regional Health Centre and the Highway 404 park and ride.
  • Wide, tree-lined sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes and upgraded utilities bring convenience and beauty to the area.
  • Motorists should be aware that the red "BUS ONLY" rapidway lanes are intended only for Viva buses. Emergency service vehicles may also use the rapidway lanes - an added benefit the rapidways bring to save valuable time when it is truly needed

When getting to and from everywhere is this easy, rapidways attract people to shop, eat, work and live in the area. Fast, convenient travel options connect people and places, while helping to support growth. If you have any questions, please take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions or feel free to contact one of your Community Liaisons.
Rumble Pond Park South Trail Public Consultation Notice
Richmond Hill Parks Staff are currently in the process of considering revitalization of the Playground at Rumble Park South (this park is south of Mill St near Bathurst of the trail). There are a number of trail and stream revitalizations that will take place as a part of this project. Further, the possibility of moving the park playground equipment to Pleasantville Park is being considered as well.

Complete information can be found at https://www.richmondhill.ca/.../thing.../Parks-Projects.aspx (scroll down to Rumble Park South for full details). The official comment period closed on January 4th but your comments can still be forwarded to me if you missed the deadline.
City and Community team up to plant nearly 10,000 trees!
In a year of challenge and change, the environment continued to be a top priority for Richmond Hill Council and our community in 2020. Through the City’s award-winning environmental programs, we continued our work together to protect, enhance and restore our local natural environment.
 
With health and safety protocols in place to protect participants and the community, we saw great success, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights include:
 
·        Partnering with local schools, businesses and community groups to plant 8,800 trees and shrubs and restore 5 hectares of land in parks and natural areas through the Community Stewardship Program
·        Distributing 915 trees and shrubs, 2,350 wildflowers, 350 rain barrels and 300 backyard composters purchased by residents for their own property at an affordable cost through the annual Healthy Yards Program
·        Giving out 200 free Monarch-friendly plant kits to residents to help restore butterfly habitat by planting a pollinator garden on their property
·        Providing residents opportunities to grow nutritious food, learn about growing native plants, meet new people and engage in healthy outdoor activity through our eight community gardens. The City is currently accepting applications for collective gardens, which are run and maintained by community groups and/or organizations.
 
Special thanks to our partners at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF), Ontario Streams, York Region and community volunteers for helping to care for our natural environment.
 
Learn more about Richmond Hill’s green initiatives and how you can get involved at RichmondHill.ca/Environment
Upcoming Events
Coldest Night of the Year Fundraiser
Saturday, February 20

Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) is an event happening across the country to help raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger.

Please click the Learn More button to join a team, create a team, donate, or sponsor. The need is even greater this year!
5th Annual Maple Syrup Festival -- SAVE THE DATE!


Planning is underway for the 5th Annual Maple Syrup Festival. This year, due to Covid-19 our event will be a virtual experience and fun for the whole family...Please stay tuned and click the Learn More button for updates. I will be updating my website with further details as they become available.


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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