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Council Highlights - May 11, 2009 Meeting

 
Council Highlights
May 11, 2009 Meeting

Dunlap Observatory Conservation Management Study Approved
Recognizing the cultural and heritage significance of the David Dunlap Observatory property, Council approved the preparation of the David Dunlap Observatory Property Planning and Conservation Management Study. Council also approved a draft terms of reference for a Master Environmental Servicing Plan (MESP) that will produce a planning framework that will facilitate the appropriate development of the 189 acre property located at 16th Avenue and Bayview Avenue and assist in managing and protecting the property’s heritage attributes, while celebrating the special value of this site. The study will consist of three elements: a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) that provides an integrated approach to determine an appropriate balance between the conservation of heritage value and the on-going use or adaptive re-use of the heritage property; a Land Use and Urban Design Vision that will provide detailed principles for the development of the lands consistent with the findings in the CMP that integrates it into the broader community and also celebrating its cultural heritage resources in to the future; and the MESP to determine the significance and limits of the natural environment to be protected and how the ultimate land use pattern can be accommodated. As a result of the Conservation Review Board not releasing a final recommendation report yet as a result of the seven-day hearing held back in January regarding the extent of heritage designations, Council added a motion to commence the Management Plan only after the Conservation Review Board’s recommendation report has been received and decided by Council. Council also added motions to have the MESP and its background studies be peer-reviewed by experts retained by the Town and that the draft terms of reference be amended to identify the functions of all structural heritage resources within the study area. It is anticipated that the Board’s report will be released later this month. The Town is pleased that the new owner has expressed interest in the preservation of the three buildings on the property. The Town will work with them in their commitment to be respectful of the heritage of the site, as well as ensure that any future development and uses will be appropriate and sensitive to both the built structures as well as the cultural heritage landscape components of the property. The public can learn more about the DDO lands by visiting the Town’s Website at www.richmondhill.ca/ddo. For more information, please contact Ana Bassios, Commissioner of Planning & Development, at (905) 771-2417 (from the Committee of the Whole Meeting held on May 4, 2009; Staff Report SRPD.09.042, Agenda Item 18).

Council Supports Fight to Ensure Property Tax Base Remains Stable
Council stated its support for ongoing joint appeals by the City of Toronto and the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) in the Bank Towers case. In this case (ARB File No. WR66512), the Assessment Review Board ruled that bank tower complexes in the City of Toronto should be valued as if they were vacant. MPAC estimates that assessing these properties as if they were vacant would reduce their assessment value by 25 per cent. This case has implications for the taxation of property in Richmond Hill with an estimated annual loss of $866,000 for the Town from traditional and big-box shopping centres, other forms of commercial retail, hotels/motels and banks. It puts the assessment base for all municipalities, as well as business education tax revenue to the Provincial government, at risk of facing substantial reductions. The Town also requested the Province of Ontario intervene to ensure that these types of buildings are assessed as if they were fully occupied by rent-paying tenants. For more information, please contact Cedric Stone, Manager of Revenue, at (905) 771-5432 (from Committee of the Whole Meeting held on May 4, 2009; Staff Report SRCFS.09.014, Agenda Item 8).
  
Reconstruction of Trayborn Drive and Kenvale Court
Council approved a contract tender for the reconstruction of Trayborn Drive and Kenvale Court. Staff has identified numerous watermain breaks in the area in recent years and this, coupled with deterioration of surface asphalt in the area, warranted these infrastructure improvements. Additionally, a sidewalk will be constructed on one side to improve pedestrian movement within the area. These improvements are expected to renew service life cycles and eliminate maintenance needs in future years. Council also authorized temporary road closures within the project’s limits to help ease the road improvement timeline. Staff will provide advance notice to all stakeholders affected by the closures, including emergency services. The Town is committed to improving its transportation system and providing a continuing high level of road network maintenance. For more information, contact Grant Taylor, Manager of Construction, at (905) 771-2425 (from Committee of the Whole Meeting held on May 4, 2009; Staff Report SREPW.043, Agenda Item 9).

Proposed Design for Baif Park Redevelopment Moves Ahead
Council approved the proposed conceptual redesign of Baif Park and authorized staff to proceed to tender for construction of the project, with a projected fall 2009 completion date. Baif Park is an existing park situated between Weldrick Road and Baif Boulevard, west of Yonge Street. The park has been an under-used amenity for years and was identified for upgrades in a previous Town budget, including the upgrading of existing facilities nearing the end of their life cycle and the addition of new facilities to bring the park up to current park development standards. In February 2007, the Town held a meeting with nine neighbourhood condominium representatives to discuss the needs of the community and the park’s future direction. Recommendations included that the future design had to consider user safety and the noise concerns of local residents; all standing water and wet areas were to be eliminated; and walking trails, outdoor furniture, open space and playgrounds be installed. Based on these recommendations, Town staff prepared a concept for the park that included a children’s playground, basketball court, pathways, pedestrian-scale lighting, seating, picnic and games tables, more tree planting and an open sodded area for recreational use. Currently, the park contains a basketball court, a bench and a few light standards. For more information, please contact John Tiberio, Landscape Architect, at (905) 747-6389 (from Committee of the Whole Meeting held on May 4, 2009; Staff Report SRPRC.09.10, Agenda Item 13). 

Richmond Hill’s Socio-Economic Future Bright
Council received the Socio-Economic Indicators Report containing data from the 2006 Census for the Town of Richmond Hill. These findings, along with ongoing public consultation through the People Plan Richmond Hill process, will help shape the Town’s new Official Plan. The study found that the Town’s general socio-economic situation is positive, led by high employment, educational attainment and income rates. The report was based on economic indicators for six key groups including households, children, youth, seniors, immigration and income. Among the study’s main findings: the Town’s population growth will be dominated by those aged 65 and over, while the number of children (aged 0-14) will remain constant; the Town enjoys high employment and educational attainment rates for the general youth population; and the Town has an affluent resident base, however a growing affordability gap is an emerging issue. Understanding these demographic groups is also important to the Town as it makes plans to meet the changing needs and expectations for municipal services in the future. For more information, please contact Paul Freeman, Manager of Policy, at (905) 771-2472 (from the Committee of the Whole Meeting held on May 4, 2009; Staff Report SRPD.09.048, Agenda Item 7).
  
Heritage Village Festival around the Corner
Council approved the required Yonge Street road closure for the 2009 Heritage Village Festival event to be held on Saturday, June 13, 2009. Specifically, Council authorized the closing of Yonge Street from the north side of Major Mackenzie Drive to the south side of Crosby Avenue, and Centre Street from the east side of Yonge Street to the west side of Church Street. Celebrating its 18th year, the Heritage Village Festival is hosted by Arts Richmond Hill with support from the Town of Richmond Hill. The annual event attracts over 10,000 visitors and features over 100 arts and craft artisans, music and dance groups, and local merchants. For more information, please contact Karin Ash, Manager of Adult and Cultural Services, at (905) 508-7012, ext. 225 (from the Committee of the Whole Meeting held on May 4, 2009; Staff Report SRPRC.09.38, Agenda Item 15).

Council Renews Smart Commute 404-7 Partnership
Council authorized an execution of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce, York Region, Town of Markham and the Markham Board of Trade for the continued delivery of the Smart Commute 404-7 program. As well, the Town also plans to commission a transportation consultant to prepare a travel demand management master plan that will include performance measures and a governance structure for Smart Commute 404-7 to ensure that it becomes financially sustainable. All parties have agreed to update the MOU to reflect the new partnership between Smart Commute 404-7 and Metrolinx. Smart Commute 404-7 is the largest Transportation Management Association in York Region. It assists businesses within the 404-7 corridor by helping reduce traffic congestion and commuter times by implementing cost-effective commuter options for their employees. This program is consistent with the newly approved Strategic Plangoals of providing stronger physical connections to transit and other modes of transportation as well as better options to move around including through the Smart Commute 404-7 program. One of the many activities that are planned in support of the program is the upcoming Bike 2 Work Day “Business Park Challenge” being held in Richmond Hill and Markham on Monday, May 25. The event is aimed at encouraging people to find alternate ways to travel to work, namely cycling. Please visit www.smartcommute404-7.ca for details. For more information, please contact George Flint, Acting Project Manager, at (905) 771-2455 (from the Committee of the Whole Meeting held on May 4, 2009; Staff Report SREPW.09.026, Agenda Item 11).

Town Expresses Concern for Employment Accessibility Standard Implementation
Council supported in principle the development of Employee Accessibility Standards to address barriers with respect to employment as outlined by the Employment Accessibility Standards Committee. Council recognizes the importance of developing standards that ensure all customers receive quality service, including those with disabilities, however the Town feels that the timelines proposed in the Employment Accessibility Standard are unrealistic and need to be extended. Additionally, the Town feels that responsibilities and costs associated with implementation are unknown and may be considerable depending on the exact nature of what is being proposed to municipalities. The proposed standard sets out a considerable amount of specific requirements for human resources practices within municipalities that reach beyond the Human Rights Code’s duty to accommodate individuals with disabilities. The standard also says that all public sector organizations must comply within three years of the standard’s adoption. Council has forwarded their recommendations and report to the Minister of Community & Social Services, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Town’s Accessibility Advisory Committee among other organizations for their information and consideration. For more information, please contact Donna McLarty, Town Clerk, at (905) 771-2529 (from the Committee of the Whole Meeting held on May 4, 2009; Staff Report SRCFS.09.24, Agenda Item 19).

Town Proclaims Asian Heritage Month
Council proclaimed the month of May as Asian Heritage Month in the Town of Richmond Hill. This month acknowledges the long and rich history of Asian Canadians and their contributions to Canada. It also provides an opportunity for Canadians across the country to reflect on and celebrate the contributions of Asian Canadians to the growth and prosperity of Canada. The Town is hosting performances, workshops and demonstrations at both the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts and Central Library to celebrate. Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1979. Over the past decade, many Asians in Canada have begun to celebrate their heritage during the month of May. In December 2001, Senator Vivienne Poy introduced a motion in the Senate of Canada to designate May as Asian Heritage Month. The Government of Canada officially recognized May as the Asian Heritage Month in May, 2002. For more information, please contact Donna McLarty, Town Clerk, at (905) 771-2529 (from the Committee of the Whole Meeting held on May 4, 2009; New Business Item).

Super Grand Gala Raises $250,000 for International Arts Programming
Super Grand Gala “For the Love of the Arts” Co-chairs Councillor Nick Papa and Naim Malik, along with Committee Members, presented Mayor Dave Barrow and Theatre Manager Michael Grit with cheques totalling $250,000. Organized by the Town, the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts and Arts Richmond Hill, the Gala raised over $200,000 with the proceeds going to the programming of international events at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. The Super Grand Gala “For the Love of the Arts” took place on April 17, 2009 at Le Parc Conference and Banquet Centre. Over 600 event participants enjoyed a served dinner, multicultural entertainment, a silent auction, and a chance to win a 2009 Lexus IS 250 RWD Auto, Suffix “A”, donated by Lexus of Richmond Hill. For more information, please contact Councillor Nick Papa, at (905) 771-2510 (from the Council Meeting held on May 11, 2009; Presentation).


The next Committee of the Whole meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:30 p.m. and the next Council meeting is Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held in Council Chambers.

This document was produced by the Communication Services Division staff at the Town of Richmond Hill. The contents of this summary are intended to be for information purposes only. The actual text of Council resolutions can be found on the Town's Website, www.richmondhill.ca. Copies of staff reports and other correspondence can be obtained from the Council Support Services/Town Clerk Division.



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