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Council Highlights - January 25, 2010 Meeting

Council Highlights
January 25, 2010 Meeting

Council Passes Special Resolution To Help Protect DDO Property
In support of the Town’s ongoing efforts to protect the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO), Council passed a resolution asking the Federal and Provincial governments to declare the property a national landmark. The resolution requests the Federal Minister of the Environment to identify and declare the DDO site to be of national historic significance and approve it as a National Historic Site. The resolution also reiterates Council’s request in September of 2009 for the Provincial Minister of Culture to designate the DDO site as a cultural heritage property of Provincial significance. To date, Council has not received a formal response from the Provincial or Federal governments. In addition, Council affirmed its commitment to support the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s acquisition of the site and seeks a funding partnership among the levels of government (Town of Richmond Hill, York Region, the Province of Ontario and the Federal Government of Canada). The resolution will be circulated to all municipalities in Ontario and requests their municipal Council to support this resolution and further forward their support to the Federal Minister of the Environment, the Ontario Minister of Culture, and to the Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Parliament in the ridings of Oak Ridges-Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Newmarket-Aurora. Council recognizes that the DDO site is an important cultural resource having been a centre for astronomical research with the largest telescope in Canada. Council has previously passed a by-law on September 29, 2009 to designate the DDO site at 123 Hillsview Drive, including land and buildings, as a cultural heritage landscape under the Ontario Heritage Act to protect the heritage attributes of the designated property. At the meeting, Council also received the Conservation Management and Planning Study Report and endorsed a series of principles to guide the future of the DDO lands. These principles will form the basis for policies for the DDO in the Town’s forthcoming new Official Plan in the spring of 2010. For more information, contact Patrick Lee, Director of Planning Policy, at (905) 771-2420 (from Committee of the Whole Meeting held on Monday, January 18, 2010; SRPD.10.009, Agenda Item No. 10 & Agenda Item No. 16).

More Seniors’ Programs On The Way
Council was pleased to announce that the McConaghy Seniors’ Centre will receive a grant of close to $20,000 from the New Horizons for Seniors Program provided by the Government of Canada – Human Resources and Skills Development department. This funding will respond to seniors’ requests through the Town's public consultation efforts for a discussion club and outdoor activity club to be established at the McConaghy Seniors’ Centre. The discussion club will bring together seniors interested in discussing, sharing and debating topics of interest and the outdoor activity club will give them opportunities to participate in seasonal activities. The Town’s various ethnic community groups will also benefit from topics of discussion and activities specific to their culture. The New Horizons for Seniors Program helps to ensure that seniors benefit from and contribute to the quality of life in their communities through social participation and active living. For more information, contact Darlene Joslin, Director of Recreation & Culture, at (905) 771-2423 (From Committee of the Whole Meeting held Monday, January 18, 2010; SRPRC.10.03, Agenda Item No. 13).
  
Eyer Homestead Heritage Building & Park Moves Forward
Council approved the Heritage Permit for the submitted architectural drawings showing the proposed renovations of the Eyer Homestead House. The Eyer Homestead property, located at 1045 Elgin Mills Road East, will include both a renovated heritage house and a new 1.75 acre park. Original construction of the house dates back to 1828 and is attributed to David Eyer (1796-1871). The house today is considered one of the Town’s earliest surviving examples of a Pennsylvania-German Mennonite dwelling. Once the renovations are complete, the Eyer Homestead House & Park will be used to deliver recreational youth programs, which will be operated and supervised by trained staff from the Town’s Parks, Recreation & Culture Department. The Eyer house was designated by the Town under the Ontario Heritage Act in February 1994 for its significant cultural heritage value. While preserving the building’s heritage, the restored Eyer House will be updated to meet current building and Town standards including physical accessibility, wiring and telecommunications, heating and air conditioning, improved insulation (for heating and sound proofing), sprinklers and security systems. Planned program spaces within the house will include: two large general purpose spaces, a computer room, accessible washrooms, a kitchen, a lounge, storage, a utility room, and a storage/preparation room to support the outdoor ropes course. It is the Town’s hope that the building will complement the activities within it by exposing the next generation to the Town’s heritage and making a link between past, present and future. In a similar way, the leadership and team building programs that are planned will serve to prepare our young adults for the future. The park will feature a number of amenities including a quiet formal landscaped area at the front and east of the restored house, a paved patio that will include an oversized chess board with large chess and checker pieces, a shelter area, a basketball half-court and a challenge ropes course for program use. The renovations are supported by grant funding as part of the Federal government’s Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. The project is scheduled to be complete by fall 2010. For more information on the project, please visit www.richmondhill.ca/eyerhomestead. For more information on the building restoration contact J. Patrick Caron, Director of Asset Management, at (905) 771-2403 and for information on the park, contact James Condron, Landscape Architect, at (905) 771-2486 (from Committee of the Whole Meeting held on Monday, January 18, 2010; Agenda Item No. 4.2).

Council Donates $10,000 To Haiti Earthquake Relief
Council donated $10,000 to the Canadian Red Cross for earthquake relief in Haiti. The earthquake, which took place on January 12, has been estimated to have left over 150,000 dead in the capital of Port-au-Prince alone, with many more thousands dead in the rubble and outside the capital. Many residents in Canada and the Greater Toronto Area, including Richmond Hill, have relatives and friends in the region who have been affected. Council expressed their deepest condolences to residents whose family and friends have been affected by the earthquake. There is a link on the Town’s Website to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada for those who wish to support the relief efforts and by making a financial donation to a charity of their choice. Council has previously supported various disaster relief efforts, including the earthquake in the Abruzzo region of Italy in 2009, the China earthquake and Myanmar cyclone in 2008, and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. For more information, contact Donna McLarty, Town Clerk, at (905) 771-2529 (from Council Meeting held on Monday, January 25, 2010; New Business). 

New Official Plan Parkland & Heritage Reports Released
Council endorsed two key documents which will form part of the Town of Richmond Hill’s new Official Plan. The Heritage Policy Review & Key Directions Report and the Parkland Background Paper provide important directions for the Town’s future development policies. The documents are part of a series of background studies to help inform the vision and development of the Town’s new Official Plan, anticipated to be released in draft form later this year. As heritage conservation is a key ingredient in maintaining the Town’s unique identity, the Heritage Report acknowledges the Town’s Strategic Plan direction to respect the past and the importance of stewardship with regards to the Town’s heritage resources. It also builds on one of the Official Plan guiding principles to recognize and enhance the inherent and unique aspects of Richmond Hill and to create focal points, gateways, experiences and landmarks. To do this, the Report recommends a variety of cultural heritage policy directions to help evaluate, protect and manage the Town’s cultural heritage resources in a context of change. In order to guide the new Official Plan parkland policies, the Parkland Background Paper includes an inventory of current parkland in the Town and evaluates future parkland needs. Based on public consultation, there is a need to diversify the types of parks within Richmond Hill. Public feedback also identified a need to increase the prevalence of “natural parks” (i.e. greenspace, forests, etc.) and the use of parkland to create walking connections. More information on the Official Plan, including these reports, can be found on the Town’s Website at www.richmondhill.ca/officialplan. The draft Official Plan is anticipated to be brought before Council in late spring. For more information, contact Paul Freeman, Manager of Policy, at (905) 771-2472 (from Committee of the Whole Meeting held on Monday, January 18, 2010; Official Plan Task Force Minutes – OPTF#10-09, Agenda Item No. 5).

Crosby Park Facilities To Be Upgraded
Council approved awarding the tender for the renovation of the Crosby Park Club House to Bemocon Contracting Ltd. to complement the fully accessible Crosby Park. Upgraded features will include accessible family change rooms, dedicated male and female washrooms and change rooms, storage areas, a program room, soccer change room and washroom, and renovations to the building façade. Construction will begin shortly with the facilities not being open to the public during this time. In the spring, the tennis court will also be resurfaced and lighting, fencing and picnic benches will be added. In addition, the soccer field will see new artificial turf laid out in place of grass, and new fencing and bleachers will also be constructed. Upgrading the facilities at Crosby Park will provide residents with a more enjoyable recreational experience at the Town’s first fully accessible park. For more information, contact J. Patrick Caron, Director of Asset Management, at (905) 771-2403 (From Committee of the Whole Meeting held on Monday, January 18, 2010; Staff Report SREPW.10.007, Agenda Item No. 12).


The next Committee of the Whole Meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 1, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. and the next Council meeting is Monday, February 8, 2010 at 7:30 p.m., both in Council Chambers.


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