David West
Richmond Hill Ward 4 Councillor
Monthly Newsletter
September 2020
A September Like No Other
September is traditionally a time when we get back to work and get back to school after a enjoying a summer break. In many ways this September is no different as children return to school and parents get back to work. However I think we will all agree that things are not the same this September because of COVID-19.

For Richmond Hill's part a number of municipal facilities in Richmond Hill have now re-opened after the shutdown in March, and more are opening soon. Limited recreation programs were offered in the summer and more are being added while adhering to all public health best practices and protocols (see below for more detail). All of our attention must be firmly focussed on practicing all Public Health protocols including physical distancing, proper and frequent handwashing and wearing a mask when physical distancing is a challenge, to name a few. Businesses and schools are also opening up and these Public Health protocols will be just as important in those settings as well. While our businesses and recreational activities have re-opened to a large degree, it is very important that we all remain vigilant to avoid Ontario's infection numbers rising to unmanageable levels in the fall and winter.

We have collectively made progress on keeping infections numbers low over the late spring and summer, and I am very proud of the front line and emergency staff, as well as our municipal staff who have continued to provide important services to our residents as we have navigated through these challenging times since March. I am also proud of the Richmond Hill community who has come together in so many ways and helped each other during these times. I have no doubt we are not out of the woods yet but I am confident that we are prepared for the challenges ahead if we continue to work together.

Richmond Hill Council resumes regular Council meetings starting on September 9th and, as always I will report on Council activities and decisions in this e newsletter. Of note this month, a controversial development application for a 28 storey building on Yonge St. will be heard at a Council Public Meeting on September 23rd (details below). I would encourage all residents of the area and beyond to feel free to express opinions to Council on this application. I believe the height and density currently proposed is too much for the area, is well above the limits laid out in the Official Plan, and would set a troubling precedent if approved. However it is important that residents let Council know their thoughts, and the Council Public Meeting is one of the most appropriate times to do so. Details are contained below about how the public can be involved at the Council Public Meeting.

Council has opted to produce a Strategic Plan that will be in effect until the end of this Council Term. As a part of this process there will be an opportunity for the community to make their views known on this subject. I would very much encourage citizens to take the survey that can be found at  https://www.richmondhill.ca/en/find-or-learn-about/Strategic-Plan.aspx. I would also encourage everyone to use the comments options in the survey to add any other detail or input that you might feel is appropriate. Finally the Strategic Plan will come to Council in October and I would also encourage residents to provide input on the draft final plan when that time comes (I will report the date and links to any final draft plan in next month's e newsletter). The feedback will be important to myself and the rest of Council as we develop this plan (see details below).

Finally during this very unusual summer I was pleased to be able to host the Councillor David West Monarch Tagging Challenge. We were not able to come together like we normally would but many residents, young and old, spent time in their own homes raising Monarch Butterflies from the caterpillar stage to maturity as a butterfly. Before these butterflies were released the Tagging Team members applied a tiny tag to the Monarch's wing so that scientists from Monarch Watch can use this data to study, and ultimately help the Monarchs as they migrate to Mexico for the winter. The data we collected is one way that we can individually help and take positive action to save this iconic species. I want to thank all that participated and I look forward to hosting this same program with even more Richmond Hill residents next year.

I always welcome a call or an email from anyone if they have any comments, questions or concerns. My email is david.west@richmondhill.ca and my mobile phone number is 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 - A monarch Butterfly appreciating the Millenium Garden at Mill Pond Park - 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
Mackenzie Health Strides for Stroke Virtual 5K Run
For the past several years I have had the pleasure of participating in, and serving on, the organizing committee for the Mackenzie Health Strides for Stroke 5 KM run. I don't consider myself an an avid runner but the event has always been a fun way to bring the community together and motivate myself to stay in shape. Perhaps most importantly the event supports a great cause as the funds go to Stroke care at our Mackenzie Health Hospital! The event was to be held in May this year but like so many events it was postponed until October 17th due to the Pandemic.

Our committee has planned a virtual run where we will all run or walk 5 km on our own on that day rather than all together in one place. We will be running separately this year but we will still be together in supporting excellent health care in our community and having fun while doing it! The goal is the same and the challenge is the same!

I am looking for members of the public to join my team. If you would like participate as a part of the Ward 4 Runners and Walkers please join up at the following link - https://mhf.akaraisin.com/strides2020/3626ae96ef644ee387c0941fdc4bdad2
 
Richmond Hill Village Core BIA Launches new Website
The Village of Richmond Hill Business Improvement Area Association has launched a new website to highlite the great businesses that are located in the Village Core area of Richmond Hill. In particular there are a variety of restaurants that are waiting to serve you with delicious and interesting culinary dishes. It is a great time to explore all the Village has to offer and support local businesses at the same time. Please visit the new website at www.richmondhillbia.com.

Plans are underway for a physically distanced celebration to mark the launch of the new website. Please stay tuned to the BIA website for further details.
Association of Ontario Municipalities Annual Conference Virtually
In late August I had the pleasure of participating in the Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO) annual conference. Due to COVID-19 this year’s conference was held remotely but the learning and networking with municipal representatives across our province remained the same. It’s always interesting to me to see and hear of the similarities that are shared by all 444 Ontario municipalities. It is equally interesting to hear about the differences that make our individual communities unique.
Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day is an annual event that began in 2013 to acknowledge the tragic legacy and impact of the Canadian Residential Schools system for First Nations, Métis and Inuit families and communities. The day is a time to wear an Orange Shirt to show our support for those impacted and for each Canadian to commit to developing an understanding of the history and the resulting impact that the Residential School system had on First Nations individuals and communities.

The Reconciliation outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Report that we collectively must take as a country is daunting, but all journeys begin with a first meaningful steps.

An interesting article about making personal acts of Reconcilliaton can be found at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/personal-acts-reconciliation-1.5619295.

To find out more about Orange Shirt Day please visit https://www.orangeshirtday.org/

Join me and Canadians across the country by wearing an Orange Shirt on September 28th!
Richmond Hill Council News
Richmond Hill Offers More To Do in Stage Three
Richmond Hill, like other Ontario municipalities has been able to move to stage 3 in the reopening of more facilities and amenities that were closed down as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Below are the top seven things residents need to know about Stage 3 in Richmond Hill: 
1)    Playgrounds reopened on July 31st.
Richmond Hill has now reopened its 130 playgrounds, as well as all outdoor exercise equipment. Residents should bring their own hand sanitizer as playgrounds and exercise equipment are not disinfected. 
These are just two of the many park amenities available to residents to enjoy now including splash pads, trails, tennis courts, skate parks and more!
2)    Residents enjoyed free drive-in concert series
The City hosted three drive-in concerts in August which provided an opportunity for the community to come together to enjoy traditional Concerts in the Park events from the comfort of their vehicles and spend some quality family time in a physically distant environment. Concerts took place in the Tom Graham Arena parking lot.
3)    We’ve got exciting Virtual and Park Adventure programs
This summer the City was happy to provide a variety of recreation options to keep children active, engage their imaginations and unleash their creativity while at home or in a physically distant environment. These programs included Virtual programming for ages 4 to 14 including theatre, Junior LIT, art, dance, poetry and a parent/caregiver and child programs. Participants interacted with instructors through Zoom, and learned new skills and work towards a goal such as a virtual performance, art show, poetry session and more. Richmond Hill was also able to offer an Adventure program at Phyllis Rawlinson Park where our Recreation staff led participants through nature activities, as well as arts and crafts specifically designed for kids to have fun while maintaining physical distancing. For full information on our current and upcoming Recreation programs visit RichmondHill.ca/RecGuide.
4)    Work to gradually open more recreational facilities has begun
The City has now opened Oak Ridges Community Centre fitness studio (weight room only) and Centennial Pool for lane and leisure swims
Capacity will be limited and residents will be required to reserve their workout and/or swim times online prior to visiting the facilities. More details will be available closer to the opening dates. 
In September, additional facilities are expected to reopen and the City is planning to offer drop-in recreation opportunities with a limited capacity. Online reservations will be required. Modified recreation programs are targeted to begin in the fall. For up to date information visit https://www.richmondhill.ca/en/things-to-do/Community-Recreation-Guide.aspx
5)    Municipal Offices are closed, but online and appointment-only services are available
The main Municipal Offices (225 East Beaver Creek Rd.) remain closed to the public. However, the Access Richmond Hill contact centre is available to respond to general inquiries by email at access@richmondhill.ca or by phone at 905-771-8800, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Residents can also report a problem (e.g. missed garbage collection, streetlight out), and/or submit a general inquiry online at RichmondHill.ca/Access
Residents can also access many other City services online, by phone or by appointment. Some examples include an online application for residential building permitsonline permit process for residents to park for free at Lake Wilcox Park; scheduled appointments to process marriage licences; and an online screening review or phone appointments to dispute a by-law penalty notice.
Note that the Operations Centre at 1200 Elgin Mills Rd. East is now open for Blue Bin and Green Bin replacement. For more information and hours of operation visit www.richmondhill.ca/en/our-services/Garbage-Tags-and-Bins.aspx
6)    Health and safety precautions are being put in place
The City is taking measures to protect staff and residents as facilities reopen and we thank everyone in advance for their cooperation. Visitors are asked not to attend a facility if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, have recently travelled internationally, or have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
At City facilities, visitors will be required to sign in for contact tracing purposes. Face masks or coverings are required in all enclosed public spaces (with some exceptions). Signage will be posted throughout facilities, including floor markers, to reinforce physical distancing and other health and safety guidelines. Plexiglas barriers have been installed at front counter service areas and hand sanitizer stations will be available at all entrances.

7) Oak Ridges Community Centre
Beginning September 14, the City is offering recreational swimming, drop-in activities and fitness classes at the Oak Ridges Community Centre. Registration is now open and spots must be reserved in advance online at RichmondHill.ca/RecGuide. For your convenience, a new monthly, auto-renewing FitPass for adults and seniors is now available for purchase. With this prepaid FitPass, you can reserve unlimited spots at the fitness studio, for a fitness class or swim time (subject to availability). For details, visit RichmondHill.ca/Fitness.
 
8) Modified recreation programs begin on September 20
Starting September 20, the City will be running shortened in-person recreation program sessions (four to five weeks per session) for preschoolers, children and adults. Programs include dance (preschool and children), guitar, art, sports and our popular Adventure Series. The number of spots for each session will be limited to ensure physical distancing. Registration will open on September 14. For details, visit RichmondHill.ca/RecGuide.
 
9) Virtual programs to open for registration in October
To help residents continue to stay active at home, the City will be offering a wide variety of virtual programs for preschoolers to older adults, including computer skills, science, technology and music. Registration will open in October. For details, visit RichmondHill.ca/RecGuide.
 
11) Virtual Celebration for David Hamilton Park and Ed Sackfield Arena and Fitness Centre
Work is now complete at David Hamilton Park and the new wing at Ed Sackfield Arena and Fitness Centre. The park and playground are now open to enjoy and the new indoor track and fitness centre are expected to open this fall. But residents can join us for a sneak preview of the new amenities at the virtual celebration on Saturday, September 19 at 9 a.m. Visit RichmondHill.ca/VirtualCelebration for details.
 
10) Health and safety precautions
The City is taking measures to protect staff and residents as facilities reopen and we thank everyone in advance for their cooperation. Visitors are asked not to attend a facility if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, have recently travelled internationally, or have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
 
At City facilities, visitors will be required to sign in for contact tracing purposes and complete a COVID-19 self-assessment before entering. Face masks or coverings are required in all enclosed public spaces (with some exceptions). Signage will be posted throughout facilities, including floor markers, to reinforce physical distancing and other health and safety guidelines. Plexiglas barriers have been installed at front counter service areas and hand sanitizer stations will be available at all entrances.
 
11)    It’s easy to stay up-to-date
Residents can visit and subscribe to RichmondHill.ca/COVID19 or follow us on Twitter @myRichmondHill and Facebook for updates on City facilities and services. 

Council Public Meeting Scheduled for 10684 and 10692 Yonge Street
As most residents in the area of Yonge and Arten/Creekview Avenue know, Richmond Hill Planning staff received a development 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 community as a whole are protected by ensuring roads and other infrastructure in the wider area function properly.

There is a Council Public Meeting scheduled for the public to make their views known on Wednesday September 23rd at 7:30PM. This meeting will be conducted remotely by Zoom given the Pandemic protocols currently in place. However the public is welcome to participate by speaking to Council at this time or they may also write an email expressing their thoughts regarding the application. The email to send your correspondence is clerks@richmondhill.ca. I would also encourage you to copy me on any emails as well at david.west@richmondhill.ca.

To participate in the meeting as a delegate you may email the Clerk at the above address. The Clerk will also give you instructions how to join the meeting virtually either by phone or by Zoom. If you have any questions about this procedure please feel free to contact me.

A staff report will be available one week prior to the meeting and this report will be available on the city's website at www.richmondhill.ca (click on the calendar link and then click on the Council Public Meeting on September 23rd for the link when it's available)

After the Council Public Meeting all comments from the public and from members of Council will be referred back to our Planning Staff for their consideration as they do their full analysis of the application. A final staff report and recommendation to Council will then be presented at a future Council meeting where Council will make a decision regarding the application.

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.





Flight of the Monarch Day Proclaimed and a Special Challenge for Residents
The Flight of the Monarch Day was well received by Richmond Hill residents this past August 22nd. The native plant and Milkweed kits that were offered to residents as a part of the Flight of the Monarch Day celebrations sold out quickly and many people also participated in the various online activities available on that day.

I am also happy to report that the Councillor West Monarch Tagging Challenge was a great success with many residents signing up to tag Monarch butterflies that they had raised and released on the Butterfly's migration to Mexico. The tagging data collected by residents will be sent to Monarch Watch who will use the data from any recovered Monarchs to add to their ongoing research to save Monarch Butterflies from extinction.

If you would like to participate in the future stay tuned for details of next year's Councillor West Monarch Tagging Challenge.

A number of videos are available to celebrate Flight of the Monarch Day as well as videos talking about the Tagging Challenge.




Richmond Hill Council is Developing a new Strategic Plan
Richmond Hill Council is currently in the process of developing a Strategic Plan to guide Council direction for the remainder of the Council term to 2022. We are seeking input from the public to shape this Strategic Plan. Residents and businesses are invited to to provide input through a short, online survey now available through our website at RichmondHill.ca/StrategicPlan. The survey will run until September 21 and information gathered from the community responses will be incorporated into the material that will be shared at the Council Education and Training Session on September 22 to discuss this new plan. I would very much encourage you to take a moment to participate in the survey
On Street Parking Restrictions Return September 8th
In the early days of the COVID-19 Pandemic Richmond Hill Council put in place a number of changes to procedures and bylaws to assist residents who were forced to work at home and/or stay isolated in their homes. Unrestricted on street overnight parking was allowed as one of these changes.

This allowance is coming to an end on September 8th. All normal parking regulations regarding on street parking will resume after that time. For more information please visit www.richmondhill.ca/en/find-or-learn-about/Find-or-Learn-About-Parking.aspx
Wright and Powell St. Construction Update
As area residents know, Council approved the reconstruction project for Wright and Powell Streets back in the spring of this year. Due to COVID-19 this project has been delayed from the start time that was originally scheduled for July. The project is proceeding and our staff hope to have the construction activity beginning shortly. Residents on these two streets will be advised by mail very shortly of the specific details related to this project.
Upcoming Events
Jubilee: New Hope for our Planet

Date: Sunday Sept 27, 2020
Time: 3 - 4:30 pm
Register at Eventbrite: 



On Sept 27th, Faith Communities, NftP and Climate Action movements come together virtually to celebrate the beauty and wonders of planet earth, to lament the destruction that has become a serious threat, creating Climate Change Emergencies world-wide; and to find New Hope for our Planet.
This is our Common Home, let’s come together to discuss what we can do individually and collectively to protect and care for our planet.


Strides for Stroke For Mackenzie Health

For more information please click on the link.


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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