David West  
Richmond Hill Ward 4 Councillor 
Monthly Newsletter 

March 2019






                         Phone:  905-771-2480      Mobile Phone:  416-346-3090       Email -  david.west@richmondhill.ca

Access Richmond Hill:  905-771-8800 -  After Hours Emergency Number:  905-884-8013

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Newsletter At A Glance
In this Issue
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Maple Syrup Time in Richmond Hill 
One of my favourite times of year is Maple Syrup season. Each year for the past three years I have hosted a community Maple Syrup Festival at the Elgin West Community Centre and Twickenham forest. I cannot think of a more Canadian way to welcome spring than making Maple Syrup with the  community . I hope you can join us for this annual tradition on March 23rd from 10AM to 2PM.  

The event will feature pancakes with real Maple Syrup, modern and old fashion sap boiling demonstrations, activities for the kids, and a horse drawn wagon ride to the sugar bush.  Complete details for this free family oriented event are contained below.

I attended an Association of Municipalities of Ontario seminar recently and had the pleasure of speaking with a number of fellow councillors from across the province. These councillors represented a diverse cross section of the more than 400 communities in Ontario. There were councillors, mayors, and reeves from mid size and smaller municipalities and from a range of rural and urban towns and cities as well.  I always find it interesting the number of challenges we share as municipalities no matter how big or small, or rural or urban our communities might be. I am also always interested to hear the unique characteristics that each municipality does not have in common with others.   It is often these unique characteristics us Councillors seem to proudly speak about when describing to our colleagues, our home communities. I also believe it is  this uniqueness between municipalities that adds value and pride to our home communities in Ontario.

Municipalities in Ontario are creatures of the province. They exist entirely at the pleasure of the provincial government, and while they do enjoy the autonomy that is given them by the province, they are ultimately not a level of government that has any enshrined right to exist. Although a number of Ontario municipalities have budgets bigger than the province of Prince Edward Island, nowhere are the rights of town and cities even mentioned in the Canadian constitution, yet these towns and cities are clearly important. Towns and cities are where every one of us live, and in many ways, the decisions that are made by municipal councils impact all of our lives in a very real way.

I am under no illusion that our right to exist as a municipality should necessarily be enshrined in the constitution. However, I have come to an increasing belief during my time on Council, that municipalities need to be given more freedom to grow and prosper in a way that suits their citizens. "One size does not fit all" so this freedom must be consistently, predictably, and permanently, granted by the province if unique and distinct communities are to thrive. I have no doubt that this is important. 

Recently the provincial government took a step in the right direction by making some important changes that gave municipalities some more freedom and autonomy. Significant changes to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) were made by dissolving this tribunal and launching a significantly different appeal body known as the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) (for more information on this change visit http://davidwest-richmondhill.ca/the-end-or-at-least-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-the-omb/ ). The new LPAT is now giving municipalities more responsibility and control over how their municipality grows and evolves over time, and this was a change that many municipalities, including Richmond Hill had fought hard to achieve.

However, there has been some concern expressed recently that the hard fought changes for the new LPAT will be eroded putting us right back to where we were with the old OMB . The provincial government has now cancelled a part of LPAT that gave support to citizens and groups that wanted to launch an appeal of a planning application but did not necessarily have the expertise to navigate an appeal (for a good account of these changes visit https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/doug-ford-closing-local-planning-appeal-support-centre-1.5029624 ) 

The Provincial government is also currently undertaking a "governance review" of a number of Regional municipalities including York Region. It is not clear what the outcome of this review will be, but there have been several scenarios floated - everything from amalgamating Richmond Hill so it no longer exists, to simply streamlining some of the practices within the Region of York but keeping municipalities in tact. It is clear that anything we can do to save the tax payer money should be done. I suspect that there can be savings found during this governance review, and a periodic review with this goal in mind is crucial. 

What I believe we do not want to see however are changes that eliminate unique communities like Richmond Hill, and all of the work and investment that these communities have made for their citizens over time. I also would not accept any changes that would erode local democracy and the ability for citizens to conveniently participate in the governance of their municipality. It has been a fact that most, if not all, municipal amalgamations that have happened in recent memory have not saved any money for taxpayers, and in some cases have caused an increase in taxation as the larger municipalities end up subsidizing the smaller ones that they amalgamate (an interesting article on Hamilton's experience with amalgamation from 2014 can be found at  https://www.thespec.com/news-story/4312675-amalgamation-brought-fewer-ontario-cities-but-more-city-workers-report-finds/ ). I am also concerned that some of these amalgamations have led to less ability for residents to participate fully in the municipal democratic processes.

As such I would hope that a clear and logical business case would be presented before any changes are made so that we can be sure that these changes will lead to stronger, not weaker, local governments, and our ability to maintain the uniqueness that makes municipalities a strong part of our province. I would be pleased to hear your thoughts on this provincial governance review and I will endeavour to keep residents informed, through this e newsletter, of any developments as they become known.

David West 
Ward 4 Councillor Richmond Hill

Banner Photo - Spring Skating on the Mill Pond by Morteza Behrooz

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 Councillor Highlights 

MP Majid Jowhari and I spoke to tired kids from TMS after their night of homelessness

1. Raising Awareness of Homelessness in Richmond Hill
Homelessness is an issue for our community like it is for many others. I had the pleasure of attending two events in February that were in support of reducing, and ideally eliminating, this problem. Toronto Montessori School each year partners with
360kids to give their grade 6 students an opportunity to experience a simulated night of homelessness. The students, with the support of their teachers, participated in exercises to help the students to develop an empathy for, and understanding of, what it might mean to be a homeless youth. 

Myself and MP Majid Jowhari had the pleasure of speaking to a very tired group of grade 6 students on the morning after this exercise.

The next event was the Coldest Night of the Year Walk to raise money and awareness of the great work that Mosaic Interfaith Out of the Cold does for over 500 homeless adults in York Region each year. This was the first walk in Richmond Hill and many community members came out to support the cause.

A number of elected representatives showing support for the Mosaic Interfaith Out of the Cold Program
Coldest Night of the Year Walk


2.  Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts turns 10!

A poster from the RHCPA Opening Night in 2009
Ten years ago on February 28th, 2009, the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts raised its curtain for the first time. At the beginning of this event, a young Richmond Hill resident took the stage and sang O Canada to begin an awesome Opening Night Performance. 

I was in attendance that night and remember thinking this was the start of something really great in our community. It was exciting to think of the possibilities that a world class performing arts facility might bring to our community. The promise and excitement of that Opening Night has come to fruition over the past ten years.

This year, on February 28th, 2019 I had the pleasure of attending the 10th anniversary celebrations featuring a performance by Richmond Hill residents Jackie Richardson and Frank Spadone. 

In the past ten years the community has enjoyed great music performances, meetings, community events, fundraisers, orchestra performances, theatrical performances, dance recitals and many other events on the theatre's main stage, Plaza Suite, and outdoor plaza. Over one million attendees have also enjoyed the theatre over the past ten years. Clearly the community continues to come together at the RHCPA.

Ten years ago I thought it was a visionary investment in our community and it continues to be a proud and enriching part of the community today. Here's to another ten years of showcasing arts and culture in Richmond Hill!

Richmond Hill resident and Comedian Frank Spadone
Richmond Hill Resident and singer Jackie Richardson

3. Green Lent at St. Mary's Anglican Church

I have come to believe that often initiatives to improve our environment do not begin with governments. They begin instead with citizens recognizing a need, taking actions to make a positive change, and then pushing governments to take further positive action. I was thrilled to be invited to St. Mary's Anglican Church for Green Lent Sunday Service in order to hear about their Green Lent initiative.  Green Lent includes concrete ways to live more gently on the earth and fulfill one's Christian obligations around Lent. Thanks to the environment group at the church for their leadership, and to Reverend Matthew McMillan for the wonderful sermon about being good stewards of creation. It was very inspiring to see local environmentalism in action. Thanks also to our Richmond Hill Environmental Services staff for being there to talk to the congregation about Richmond Hill's efforts to protect and enhance our corner of the world. To learn more about St. Mary's Anglican Church visit  http://saintmaryschurch.ca

4. Richmond Hill wins at Festivals and Events Ontario Competition
Richmond Hill has again won an award recognizing the quality of our Town events. Richmond Hill's Canada Day festival has won recognition from Festival and Events Ontario. Congratulations to our Event Services staff for their efforts in bringing quality community events to Richmond Hill.  To find out more read the article that appeared March 4 on York Region.com https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/9201077-richmond-hill-wins-big-festivals-events-ontario-award/

5. Yellow Brick House Gala
Terrence, Lorris, Dave and David at the Yellow Brick House Gala (Lorris is the CEO of YBH)
For many of the years since the first Yellow Brich House gala in 2006 I have had the pleasure of attending this annual event in support of the great work that this organization does in eliminating domestic violence, and supporting women and children impacted by this violence. 

As a past Board member, volunteer, and donor I appreciate the important work that Yellow Brick House does in our community. Over the years I have heard stories from survivors of domestic violence and have no doubt that the work Yellow Brick House does is important. 

To learn more about Yellow Brick House visit  http://www.yellowbrickhouse.org

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Richmond Hill Council News

This section presents a brief outline of some key issues that will be, or have been, discussed at Council over the past month. More information can be found by clicking on links to other information sources like news articles, my website, and the Town's website. Please also feel free to visit the Town website to view videos of past council meetings. These videos can be found by visiting  https://calendar.richmondhill.ca/default/Month , then clicking on the relevant meeting date, and then scrolling to the bottom of the page to view the archived video for the meeting.

1. Richmond Hill Approves Operating Budget for 2019
A municipal operating budget represents the fiscal expression of the goals and values of a community. It commits sufficient funds to deliver the services that citizens need and expect, and it allows a community like ours to continue to be a vibrant community. Overall the Richmond Hill 2019 operating budget will maintain our current service levels and keeps the tax increases to approximately the inflation rate.
The $180 million Operating Budget will result in a 2.07 per cent increase to the municipal portion of the total property tax bill. This is equal to a $39.32 increase on the annual tax bill of an average Richmond Hill home valued at $1.1 million. 
Some highlights of the 2019 Operating Budget include:
  • Opening of NHL-sized ice rink, new fitness facility and indoor walking track at Ed Sackfield Arena
  • Implementation of new programs and activities at the new Lake Wilcox Youth Park  
  • Completion of David Dunlap Observatory Woodlot Restoration Project Phase 1 and Phase 2
As well, new staff positions will be added to improve service delivery, including a Parks Technician, Risk and Insurance Clerk, and a Facility Operator for the David Dunlap Observatory. A GIS (Geographic Information System) Manager will be hired to head GIS work at the Town, as identified in the IT Strategy.
Through the 2019 Operating Budget, Richmond Hill is transitioning its Capital Asset Sustainability levy from a flat fee to a percentage, based on the Phased-In Assessment Value of a property as determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). The levy funds the repair and replacement of aging infrastructure such as roads, parks and buildings. An average Richmond Hill home will pay $71 for the Capital Asset Sustainability levy.
Council also approved the 2019 Water, Wastewater and Stormwater budgets. The 7.5 per cent increase on water and wastewater takes effect April 1, 2019 and is largely driven by the nine per cent wholesale rate increase York Region charges for these services. The Stormwater rate will increase 9 per cent, effective April 1, 2019.
Quick Facts
  • Council increased the Senior's Tax Assistance Grant to $400 per eligible applicant. Seniors can learn more at RichmondHill.ca/TaxAssistancePrograms.
  • Richmond Hill collects taxes on behalf of York Region and the Province of Ontario for education. Approximately 27 per cent of taxes remain in Richmond Hill; 49 per cent goes to York Region and 24 per cent to education.
  • Some of the services provided by the Town include garbage pick-up, snow removal, water supply, water treatment, solid waste facilities, arterial roads, planning and growth management, parks and recreation, fire protection and public libraries.
  • Some of the Regional services include regional roads, community health programs, social and children's services, policing and emergency response services.
  • Richmond Hill Council previously approved the 2019 Capital Budget of $43.9 million on February 11.
My Operating Budget Commentary
I am pleased that Richmond Hill Council's Operating budget deliberations are complete and only a small increase in the Richmond Hill portion of the taxes is the result.  I appreciate the work of the Financial Services Staff and my colleagues, for keeping any tax increases to a minimum.  Within the budget deliberations there were a number of note worthy decisions made by Council.
The approved budget saw a reduction in the number of firefighters that will be hired in order to meet the targets of our Fire and Emergency Services Master Plan. I was concerned about this decision because as our Fire Chief said during the deliberations, this will mean that we will need to hire 12 firefighters next year to meet our obligations under the Master Plan.
There was also a reduction in the budget request from the Richmond Hill Public Library. This will likely mean a reduction in services that the Library will be able to deliver. In my view this is unacceptable and unnecessary. I supported a compromise alternative motion that would have meant the Library could maintain existing service levels. This motion failed. It remains to be seen what the reduction in services will mean but it was stated that Sunday closings may be a possibility (for a good summary of the implications related to the Library operations visit https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/9213688-richmond-hill-library-board-addresses-impact-of-budget-constraints/ )
While I respect that Council chose to reduce the funding for the Library and for Fire Services, versus what was asked within these respective budget requests, I particularly objected to Council's decision (in a 6-3 vote Councillors Cilivetz, Chan and myself being the 3 dissenting voices) to spend an additional $290K to hire 2 new assistants for the Regional Councillors and provide the possibility of an additional $25K for each ward councillor to hire extra assistants.
Given our overall efforts to cut spending, to increase Council's budget by almost the same amount as we cut from the Library budget request was not acceptable to me. I fully respect that there is a significant workload to be done in the Council offices, but given Council's efforts to save taxes, I do not believe this decision demonstrates positive leadership.
2. Council to Consider Changing Richmond Hill to a City 
Council passed a member motion to discuss changing Richmond Hill from a "town" to a "city". The discussion will take place at the March 25, 2019 Council meeting. Information about the estimated cost to make this change will be shared at that meeting. 

This topic has come up several times during my time on Council but the change in name has always failed to pass. I have spoken over the years about continuing to be called the Town of Richmond Hill but as we continue to grow I have become increasingly aware that the term "Town" likely does not accurately describe the urban environment which we call home. I have also discovered that the change in name has little or no legal or practical impact to our community. I have heard the argument that Richmond Hill as a City may be viewed more favourably on an international stage, but I am not aware of any solid evidence to reinforce this claim. I find myself with mixed feelings on the issue and would appreciate your thoughts on the matter so that I can accurately reflect these views when Council is scheduled to make a final decision in March. 

3. Land Acknowledgement Motion
If you wish to make your views known regarding a Traditional Land Acknowledgement to begin Richmond Hill Council meetings feel free to attend the  Council  meeting on March 25th at 7:30 where this motion will be discussed. For more information about the motion see below in this e newsletter. If you wish to register as a delegate to speak at this meeting or write your thoughts please contact clerks@richmondhill.ca.

4. Celebrating the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts
Council received an annual report highlighting the successful 2017/2018 season at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts (RHCPA). Artists who graced the stage this season include Jann Arden, Louie Anderson, Ramin Karimloo (Our Town Our Talent), Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, USS and Saloon (produced by Cirque Eloize). The 2017/2018 Education Program saw over 11,000 students walk through the doors. Outside of the theatre, the RHCPA also presented shows at Jazz in the Plaza, Richmond Hill's Canada Day celebrations, Concerts in the Park and more. The 2017/2017 season concluded with the highest number of tickets sold since the RHCPA opened in 2009. Happy 10 year anniversary, RHCPA! Details of the 2018/2019 season will be available to the public in May. 

5. New Dates and Times for Committee of the Whole and Council Meetings
Richmond Hill Committee of the Whole and Council meetings will take place on alternate Tuesdays at 1 p.m. on a trial basis, from April to September.  I feel that it is very important that residents have a convenient opportunity to speak to Council when necessary, and as a  result, I was not in favour of this  change. At the present time, we offer a chance to speak at Committee of the Whole at 4:30 and another Chance to speak at Council meetings at 7:30. As a result of this change, the evening opportunity will be taken away making it much more difficult for people working in the daytime to attend Council meetings. Council will reassess the meeting times after the trial period ends in the fall of 2019. As such, if you have thoughts on this change I would welcome your input.

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Ward 4 Development Applications - Update 

There are a number of development applications active in Ward 4 that continue to generate significant interest from residents.  This newsletter section is intended to keep everyone informed and updated about the status of these applications. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all active development applications in the ward, but a brief synopsis of select applications. Information that is new since the last newsletter is marked as "**NEW**" Please feel free to contact me at david.west@richmondhill.ca if you have questions about applications described below or questions about an application that is not included here. 
Current and ongoing applications with little or no significant developments to report are listed below with a brief summary of the application only. New applications, since last month, or ones with significant developments since last month are listed with greater detail below.

A good general resource related to Land Use Planning can be found on the Minstry of Municipal Affirs website at  www.ontario.ca/document/citizens-guide-land-use-planning

Current Applications with no significant Changes to report since last month 

1. 129, 133, 141 Arnold Cres and 230 Major Mackenzie Dr. W.  
Potential townhouse development near Arnold Cres. and Major Mackenzie Dr.

2. 35 Wright Street
Redevelopment of a Heritage designated home on Wright Street just west of Yonge Street.

3.  251, 253 and 259 Oxford Street
A single detached home project on the south side of Oxford St West of Regent St. 

4. 11488 Yonge St and 49 Gamble Rd. (south west corner of Gamble and Yonge)
A proposed townhouse and condominium development near the south west corner of Gamble Rd. and Yonge St.

New Applications / Older Applications with new changes since the last month to report

1. 116 Lucas St. **New**
The applicant is proposing to build a semi detached dwelling on the subject lands. A Council Public Meeting was held in February related to this application. I recently held an additional Residents Meeting to discuss this application in more detail with residents. All of the input gathered from these meetings will be referred to our Planing Staff and the applicant as the application moves through the process. 

2. 10922, 10944 and 10956 Yonge St. Diogliola Developments Inc.
This application is for lands south of Canyon Hill Avenue, on the west side of Yonge St. The lands are a part of the Key Development Area Secondary Plan that was recently passed by Council. The applicant has made a number of appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board during the process leading up to the passing of the Secondary Plan. A settlement offer that was considered before Council on Monday, February 11th, 2019 to settle the outstanding appeals. The full staff report can be found at  https://pub-richmondhill.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=20333. At the meeting on February 11th, Council voted to give direction to our Planning Staff to approve the settlement offer. This approval will give the applicant the ability to move forward with the Townhouse component of the application described in the staff report.

3. Downtown Secondary Plan Repeal coming to Council on April 3rd CPM
Council recently repealed the Downtown Secondary Plan. I remain opposed to repealing this Plan as it set out a plan for a vibrant and revitalized Village Core, cost a great deal of tax payer money, included extensive citizen input in its creation, and was only passed in 2017. 

In order to officially repeal this plan a Council Public Meeting will be legally required and this matter will be heard at the Council Public Meeting on April 3rd at 7:30 in the Council Chambers. There will be a staff report available on this subject approximately a week before the meeting on the Town website under the Calendar Tab - https://calendar.richmondhill.ca/default/Detail/2019-04-03-1930-Council-Public-Meeting

Citizens are welcome to attend this meeting to have their opinions heard by Council and staff. No final decisions will be made at the April 3rd meeting, but a staff report and bylaw to repeal this Plan will come to Council likely in May. Details of this meeting are contained below.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Pursuant to the Planning Act

A PUBLIC MEETING  is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Offices, 225 East Beaver Creek Road, to receive comments and notify the public of Council's proposal to repeal OPA 6 (the Downtown Local Centre Secondary Plan).
Inquiries Refer To:
Town File: D11-19001
Town Planner: Christine Lee, Planning Researcher
Telephone: 905-747-6428
Email: christine.lee@richmondhill.ca

Subject Lands
Amendment No. 6 to the Richmond Hill Official Plan, also known as OPA 6 (Downtown Local Centre Secondary Plan) applies to the area bounded by Harding Boulevard in the south and Levendale Road in the north. It includes properties on the east and west sides of Yonge Street.

Purpose and Effect
Council is proposing to repeal By-law 23-17, by which OPA 6 was adopted on February 27, 2017. If the proposed repeal is approved by Council, it will mean that all policies and schedules of OPA 6 will no longer be in effect and will not apply to the subject lands, subject to any appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal respecting those policies and schedules of OPA 6 which have already been determined to be in force (i.e. those relating to the Uptown District).

Should the repeal of OPA 6 be approved by Council, the Town will advise the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal of this decision of Council and the hearing process related to matters that are not yet in effect with respect to OPA 6 will conclude.

Any person may attend the public meeting and/or make written or verbal representation either in support of or in opposition to the proposed repeal of OPA 6. Written comments by any person unable to attend the meeting should be mailed/faxed/emailed to the Town Clerk, The Corporation of the Town of Richmond Hill, to be received no later than 12:00 p.m. noon on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. Please ensure that you include your name and address so that you may be contacted if necessary.

Repealing By-law Appeal: If a person or public body would otherwise have an ability to appeal the decision of the Council of the Town of Richmond Hill to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal but the person or public body does not make oral submissions at the public meeting or make written submissions to the Town of Richmond Hill before the proposed Repealing By-law is adopted, the person or public body is not entitled to appeal the decision of Town Council to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and may not be added as a party to the hearing of an appeal before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal unless, in the opinion of the Tribunal, there are reasonable grounds to do so.

If you wish to be notified of the decision of the Council of the Town of Richmond Hill in respect of the adoption or refusal of the proposed repeal of OPA 6, you must make a written request to the Town Clerk, The Corporation of the Town of Richmond Hill, 225 East Beaver Creek Road, Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 3P4 or by e-mail to clerks@richmondhill.ca .

Notice of Collection: Personal information is collected under the authority of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.13 and may be contained in an appendix of a staff report, published in the meeting agenda, delegation list and/or the minutes of the public meeting and made part of the public record. The Town collects this information in order to make informed decisions on the relevant issues and to notify interested parties of Council's decisions. It may also be used to serve notice of a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal hearing. Names and addresses contained in submitted letters and other information will be available to the public, unless the individual expressly requests the Town to remove their personal information when submitting their written comments. The disclosure of this information is governed by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56. Questions about this collection and disclosure should be directed to the Office of the Clerk at 905-771-8800 or by e-mail to clerks@richmondhill.ca .

Additional information: For more information about this matter, including information about appeal rights, please contact the Office of the Clerk at 905-771-8800 or by e-mail to clerks@richmondhill.ca .

Questions respecting the information and recommendations contained in the staff report regarding the proposed amendment related to the Repeal of OPA 6 should be directed to Christine Lee, Planning Researcher, 905-747-6428 or by e-mail to christine.lee@richmondhill.ca. The staff report will be available at the Office of the Clerk, Ground Floor of the Municipal Offices, on March 27, 2019 after 3:00 PM. The staff report will also be available on the Town's website at RichmondHill.ca. To find it, select the Calendar and click on the April 3, 2019 Council Public Meeting date.

Stephen M.A. Huycke, Town Clerk
Town of Richmond Hill
225 East Beaver Creek Road
Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 3P4
Telephone: 905-771-8800
Fax: 905-771-2502
Dated This 7th Day of March, 2019

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 A Traditional Land Acknowledgement for Richmond Hill

Since the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Final Report, Canadians from across the country have been engaged in a path towards reconciliation to heal the past damage that has been done to the First Nations Communities in our country. Many individual actions by citizens, organizations, and governments have taken place but many more are still needed before we reach the goals set in the TRC report (for a link to the TRC Report Calls to Action click here).

In 2017 Richmond Hill hosted a sold out event at The Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts called The Secret Path : Walking Toward Reconciliation. Since that time Council also passed a motion to honour local First Nations by creating a public space dedicated to the First Nations community (to learn more about these two events click here and here (The Secret Path event is about half way down this article).   

At Council on February 11th I introduced the motion outlined below, as another step that our community can take along this path.  After a short discussion, Council decided to defer this matter to the March 25th Council meeting. It would be my hope that at that meeting, the Land Acknowledgement will be adopted. If you would like to communicate your thoughts to Council on this matter I would encourage you to come out to speak at the March 25th meeting (to register as a delegation email clerks@richmondhill.ca before noon on March 25th), or write a letter expressing your thoughts on the matter to the clerk at clerks@richmondhill.ca in advance to the March 25th Council meeting.

To view the Council discussion on this topic you can view the video from the meeting by clicking here. The part of the video that deals with the Land Acknowledgement runs between 12:25 min. and 31:41 min.

Member Motion Submitted by Councillor David West

Whereas Indigenous People have lived on the lands we now call Richmond Hill for many centuries and have made, and continue to make, very important contributions to Richmond Hill and to our country of Canada.

Whereas the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report outlines many actions that Canadians can, and must take, in order to repair our past relationships with Indigenous Communities.

Whereas "an important first step toward reconciliation is recognizing the existence of Indigenous people.  A shared understanding of how our collective past brought us to where we are today will help us walk together into a better future". ( 1)

Whereas since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission tabled its final report, an increasing number of organizations and communities are working to make a positive change in our relationship with Indigenous Communities. These communities are demonstrating their commitment to reconciliation by reciting a Land Acknowledgement to begin meetings and public gatherings.

Whereas residents of Richmond Hill have expressed a strong desire to pursue Truth and Reconciliation, as was evidenced in the October 2017 event, that took place in Richmond Hill, called The Secret Path: Walking Towards Reconciliation, and also in activities and policies of many faith based organizations

Whereas a Land Acknowledgement to begin Council meetings is consistent with actions that we have collectively taken in Richmond Hill in the past few years including the passing of a Council motion in 2018 to honour local Indigenous Communities with dedicating a park or community space in recognition of the important past and present Indigenous contribution to our community, and country.
Whereas according to the Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO), "Traditional land acknowledgement statements are increasingly being used in Canada by governments, schools, post-secondary institutions, non-governmental organizations, and other civil institutions as a practice of reconciliation aimed at recognizing the traditional or treaty territories of Indigenous peoples. The statements are typically made at the introduction of meetings, gatherings, events, or presentations". (2)

Whereas by opening Council meetings with a Land Acknowledgment, Richmond Hill Council would be demonstrating that we are building a community that is contributing in a positive way to reconciliation efforts in Canada.

Therefore Be It Resolved that the following proposed Land Acknowledgement be added to the opening of Richmond Hill Council Meetings beginning with the meeting on February 25, 2019.

Land Acknowledgement
We would like to start by acknowledging that we are on the traditional territories of the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, and the Anishinaabe peoples, whose presence here continues to this day. We would also like to acknowledge the land we are on is at the meeting place of two treaties, the lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit and those of the First Nations of the Williams Treaty. We would thank them and other Indigenous peoples for sharing this land with us.
We acknowledge this land and people because the first step to reconciliation is recognizing the existence of Indigenous people.  A shared understanding of how our collective past brought us to where we are today will help us walk together into a better future. ( 3)

1  From the York Region District Public School Board Indigenous Land Acknowledgement
2  AMO Website
3  York Region District Public School Board Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

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3rd Annual Ward 4 Maple Syrup Festival

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Richmond Hill Cultural Summit

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Kids Run For Nature

To register visit kidsrunfornature.ca
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Clean Up Green Up Weeks

Richmond Hill is organizing the annual Clean Up, Green Up Weeks to give our Town a spring cleaning. In 2018, with the help of 7,744 volunteers, we cleaned more than 100 parks, trails, and streets in our community. We are proud to see Richmond Hill come together again in 2019 for this event. 
During the weeks of April 22 to May 6, community groups and schools throughout the Town will help pick up litter in our parks, boulevards, and other areas. Groups can register online until April 5 by visiting RichmondHill.ca/CleanUpWeeks.
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is an interactive learning experience that teaches the Indigenous rights history we're rarely taught. Developed in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples-which recommended education on Canadian-Indigenous history as one of the key steps to reconciliation, the Blanket Exercise covers over 500 years of history in a one and a half hour participatory workshop.

Blanket Exercise participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. They are directed by facilitators representing a narrator (or narrators) and the European colonizers. Participants are drawn into the experience by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcomes. By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise effectively educates and increases empathy. The exercise is followed by a debriefing session in which participants have the opportunity to discuss the experience as a group. This often takes the form of a talking circle.

With thanks, this event will be facilitated by Mennonite Central Committee. We are also very grateful to David West, Ward 4 Councillor in Richmond Hill, who has provided funding for the facilities. This event is open to everyone.

To register visit  tinyurl.com/blanket2019

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RHCPA Speaker Series - Spring 2019

To order your tickets click here.

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Strides For Stroke

To join my Team - The Richmond Hill Runners and Walkers please visit  https://mhf.akaraisin.com/ui/strides2019/team/212341
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Viva Yonge St. Bus Rapid Transit Update

For a link to a summary video of the project please visit  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaWgX6_zDzY
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Great Things To See And Do Around Town

Looking for interesting things to do this month in our Community? Look no further - below is a listing of various community events that I would like to promote on behalf of the various organizers. For a complete listing please click on the links below. These links will take you to my website where the full details of the listing for each event can be found.

St. Patrick's Day Pancake Breakfast
Saturday, March 16
9:00 - 11:00 a.m. 

Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra
Planet Earth
Sunday April 28 - 8:00 p.m.
Pre-concert talk - 7:15 p.m.

For more information visit rhpo.ca
For ticket details visit rhpo.ca/tickets
or call: 905-787-8811
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Artifact of the Month

Curling Stone
From the Town of Richmond Hill Collection
Courtesy of: Jack Rumeny                           SH-018.12.1

Curling is an ancient sport believed to have originated in Scotland. The very early stones had rough finger holds and it is not until the early 1600s that stones with handles were introduced. By the end of the 19th century, the rounded stone was introduced. This produced a game of skill and finesse rather than just one of strength. Indoor rinks became common in the early 20th century, helped to standardize the game and protected the players from bad weather and the risk of a lake or pond's thin ice.

Curling has a long history in Canada, starting with the Montreal Curling Club, which was formed in 1807. This makes it the first curling club in North America. It is also believed that the Montreal Curling Club built the first covered rink in British North America in 1838. Curling spread across the continent. By 1865, at the Great International Bonspiel in Buffalo, New York, there were at least 50 curling clubs from Canada and the U.S. that participated.

This stone, dated circa 1890s, was used at the Richmond Hill Curling Club.

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