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Recap: Feb. 24th York Regional Council Meeting

Members in Attendance:

W. Emmerson,M. Bevilacqua,J. DiPaola,M. Ferri,R. Grossi,V. Hackson,D. Hamilton,J. Heath,L. Jackson,J. Jones,J. Li,I. Lovatt,T. Mrakas,S. Pellegrini,C. Perrelli,M. Quirk,G. Rosati,F. Scarpitti,J. Taylor,T. Vegh,and D. West

Note: The following summary is not to be considered direct quotes or meeting minutes but the best interpretation of the comments made at the meeting with a focus on items that impact Richmond Hill.


D.1 Transition Planning for COVID 19 Vaccination Clinics - Dr. Barry Pakes, Medical Officer of Health for York Region

At the end of the presentation, Mayor West asked for clarification that the mass vaccination clinics that were using the larger municipal sites would not longer be needed (allowing for Richmond Hill municipal use again).

  • The answer was ‘yes - the clinics would be moving out of larger municipal sites… but if we need one in the fall they may need to be used again.’

Mayor West then asked if we would be going back to allowing anyone to be tested for COVID.

  • Answer: 'Only if the amount of virus decreases to the point where we can accommodate the needed testing.’

Mayor West: How confident are we in the tools we have now to evaluate risks?

  • Answer: Waste water sampling is effective at this point.’

Mayor West: When the rules change to allow businesses to not ask for proof of vaccination, will seniors and other at-risk people be hindered from participating and can the municipality choose to keep a proof of vaccination requirement?

  • Answer: 'Yes, municipalities can keep the POV.’

RC Perrelli: While at emergency saw staff removing masks to sip coffee - so how effective are they?

  • Answer: ’Still largely effective because the viral load in the air is kept to a minimum - but they should not be sipping coffee in emergency.’

RC Perrelli: Had a person report to him that a doctor had told her to not get the vaccine - should people be listening to a politician or a doctor?

  • Answer: Infectious disease specialists are the most knowledgeable and he can speak privately with RC Perrelli if needed.

RC Perrelli: Why is Florida open for a year and we have had to be closed? The situation needs to be clarified, we need a proper stream of communication.

RC DiPaola - Where is it best to point the remaining 10% unvaccinated to show them safety issues and risk factors?

  • Answer: Info is out there but Public Health Ontario is best but he doesn’t imagine it will be effective to the 10%. There has been a recent YR survey with 15000 responses - that data may help.

D.2 Corporate Update #7 - York Region Response to COVID-19 ( Presented by Bruce Macgregor

  • 100% of York Region Staff are compliant with vaccine policy.

F.2 Motion from City of Richmond Hill to Respond to the Infrastructure Ontario High Tech Transit Oriented Community Plan

The key points in the letter are that Richmond Hill wants to ensure the province that it agrees with and has complied with the provincial core principles in its draft plan but that:

  • The City of Richmond Hill has a number of concerns about the IO High Tech TOC plan. Key concerns specific to the IO High Tech TOC plan include:

    • i. The densities and total population proposed for the High Tech TOC are markedly higher than outlined in the draft RH Centre Secondary Plan (IO High Tech TOC plan anticipates 35,300 to 36,700 residents within the High Tech TOC boundary, while the draft Richmond Hill Centre Secondary Plan anticipates 17,700 residents in the High Tech TOC;

    • ii. The lack of alignment with the draft Richmond Hill Centre Secondary Plan vision for mix of use within the High Tech TOC area;

    • iii. The lack of a transparent and fulsome consultation process with Council and residents; and iv. The lack of a financial framework to support the High Tech TOC. and then it asked for a 90-day extension to work through the complicated details in the IO high Tech TOC proposal.

    • No discussion on this item

F.6 Town of Aurora Council Resolution - Request to Dissolve Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)

The Aurora Council had adopted the resolution to request the dissolution of the OLT on February 22nd and Mayor Mrakas was requesting that York Region receive and support the motion from the Town of Aurora.

  • There was a very long debate on this with Mayor Taylor and Mayor Mrakas arguing strongly about submitting a strong response to the province about the actions of the OLT.

  • The opposition was mostly voiced by RC Jackson and RC Perrelli - suggesting that there needed to be a referral to staff for more detailed study and carefully crafted response (terms were used like: the province is the parent, we are the child, we need to be careful how we respond to the parent…).

  • Eventually, Mayor Taylor accepted enough of the arguments to change to supporting referral. So a motion to receive the report and refer it to staff was on the table, moved by RC Perrelli and seconded by RC Jackson.

    • It was SO close but was defeated in: A recorded vote was as follows: For: Bevilacqua, DiPaola, Ferri, Jackson, Jones, Pellegrini, Perrelli, Quirk, Rosati, Taylor (10) Against: Emmerson, Grossi, Hackson, Hamilton, Heath, Li, Lovatt, Mrakas, Scarpitti, Vegh, West (11)

Then an amended motion was moved by Mayor Mrakas and seconded by Mayor Hackson: That Council receive the correspondence from Michael de Rond, Town Clerk, Town of Aurora dated February 22, 2022 and that York Region supports the following motion from the Town of Aurora, as amended:

  • NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Ontario be requested to immediately engage municipalities to determine an alternative land use planning appeals process in order to dissolve the OLT and eliminate one of the most significant sources of red tape delaying the development of more attainable housing in Ontario;

    • A recorded vote was as follows: For: Bevilacqua, DiPaola, Emmerson, Ferri, Grossi, Hackson, Hamilton, Heath, Jackson, Jones, Li, Lovatt, Mrakas, Pellegrini, Quirk, Rosati, Scarpitti, Taylor, Vegh, West (20) Against: Perrelli (1) It was carried.

G.4 Response to Provincial Housing Affordability Task Force Recommendations Response: Attachment 1:

  • RC Rosetti Who will build the increased affordable housing (wanting from 40 000 to 150 000)? What about the infrastructure needed?

  • Mayor Quirk: Task force was a developer task force none of us were on there. Recommends that Chair sit down and ask for a meeting with appropriate Minister Chair: we should send to our local MPPs but also agreed

  • Mayor Taylor: We should receive the report but not agree with recommendations - I do not agree with this response. Feels uncomfortable saying that we agree in principle, that we are dealing with something that is far too flawed (4 or 5 or 6 of these). Eg: 11 storey building on any transit route no parking requirements. My suggestion: move that we receive and instead direct for a letter to be sent from the Chair, outlining concerns, problems with overall approach, how it is going to impinge significantly on planning processes of local municipalities and communities, nothing be advanced without consultation with municipalities, and ask for a meeting with MPPs and Minister.

  • Mr. Freeman (staff): Not clear there is a consultation period on this report - many municipalities are commenting. There are many that are non-starters. ‘Agree in principle’ was based on the comments in the third column. Neighbourhoods are important, keep them as they are. Key concept: municipalities need to be in the driver seat, we all agree that intensification needs to happen. We have local buses running through neighborhoods and communities. Our goal: the best way to implement principles are through official plans. We think we should be going the other way, to limit appeals. We do feel that we need to respond quickly because the province is moving quickly.

  • Mayor Taylor: Disagree with first point from Mr. Freeman. Commenting periods are a way of saying that we have consulted, but this is not even at the point where we can comment or even consult on. If we all agree - don’t even try to move this forward before an election.

  • Mr. Freeman: I don’t agree with anything you said, Mr. Taylor.

  • Chair: Maybe that is what the motion should say - to ask the province to sit down with us for a consult.

  • Mayor Taylor: I’m happy to draft a letter saying the ones we agree with and the ones we don’t.

  • Mayor Lovatt: I can’t support the report as presented. There may be some things that I disagree with that Mayor Taylor would support. Question to Mr. Freeman: has this report been shared with our commissioners and directors of development in the local municipalities and if not can you convene a meeting with them? (I’m not a planner - can we do that in the near future?)

  • Mr. Freeman: We haven’t had the opportunity to consult with local staff which we would normally do. The province is moving very quickly and we are worried about statutory changes being made so we wanted to bring it before council.

  • Mayor Mrakas: I can’t support it either. One size fits all approach and we are all unique. It makes me uncomfortable to say that we agree in principle. Support Mayor Taylor’s motion and Mayor Quirk’s suggestion. Maybe we should ask for them to meet with our Housing Affordability Task Force. Document is profit-driven not community-driven.

  • Mayor Scarpitti: Send a strong message that this goes through a meaningful process (municipalities were once called not only children of the province but creatures of the province??). Even though we need to act quickly, we need a more meaningful discussion on this.

  • RC Heath: I can’t support the report as it stands, we do need more discussion, appendix is excellent, need more reinforcement. 13. Limit municipalities from requesting or hosting additional public meetings beyond those that are required under the Planning Act. Disagree Public participation is an inherent part of the Planning process. 4 # Task Force Recommendations Agree/ Disagree Staff Comments

  • RC DiPaola - stronger even, this is fundamentally flawed, changes will do nothing to help the problem (of housing affordability). We reject, the approach is not helpful, hurtful, violates residents opportunities to engage in building their communities.

  • RC Ferri - do concur with many of the comments and do not support staff recommendations in this report. We need to send a very strong message and support the idea of a meeting.

  • Mayor West: agree but how can we get a report from committee of the whole sent downtown without ratifying it at council the next week

  • Chair: We will do what we have done in the past - we have sent the motion and documentation down to the province with the caveat that it went to the Committee of the Whole and will be going to Council for ratification in two weeks.

  • Mayor Taylor: all should meet with their MPP but also direct staff to write a letter from the Chair to province… skip anything coming back to council…

  • Chair: I can send a caveat letter but we have more weight if members of council have time to respond (at C of the Whole) so suggest after Mr. Freeman (Chief Planner) gets voices of municipal staff and then write a report.

Moved by Mayor Mrakas Seconded by Mayor Taylor That Council receive the report dated February 22, 2022 from the Commissioner of Corporate Services and the Chief Planner; and That staff be directed to provide a proposed response, developed in consultation with local planning staff and generally aligning with Small Urban GTHA Mayors’ statement, to the March 3, 2022 Committee of the Whole meeting. Carried Note: these were the recommendations and the memorandum that were received (and sent down as proposed above I believe) at the March 3 Committee of the Whole meeting.

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