The Richmond Hill Official Plan review what’s it all about?
Official Plans are regularly reviewed. There are not set dates since it is an evolving document; and it is part of a series of plans.
For instance, the city’s Strategic Plan presents the guiding principles for the Official Plan.
The Region of York has their Official Plan and Richmond Hill’s has to align with that.
And the Province dictates a lot of the city’s planning through various policies and documents that reflect provincial directives and policies for all Ontario municipalities.
But the city has the power and authority to decide how they want to interpret these guidelines and plan the community that reflects the needs of its citizens. Many city planning experts are called up but residents do have a vital role in creating this document.
You are encouraged to read or familiarize yourself with the current OP and its supporting documents.
Our current OP, which has been amended and notated, over the years, is 256 pages long. (But it does have a lot of pictures!) You may find the history of Richmond Hill very interesting – including the very early Indigenous settlements, the first farmers and merchants, whose names you’ll recognize as our street names. And in 1981 the population was only 37,000!
Last October, council did accept the motion to initiate the review of the OP and hire a consultant. The chair and vice chair of the Official Plan Update Committee, Mayor Dave Barrow and Ward 4 Councillor David West, respectively, were selected just before we went into ‘lockdown’ and stopped having public meetings. The first public meeting was to have happened at the end of March.
Community input is essential. For many of us, we now have time to formulate our ideas better. The residents are extremely knowledgeable and have wise thoughts on how they expect their community to grow and evolve over time. Here are some key things to be thinking about:
Intensification and KDAs. There are mandates from the province to accommodate population growth and where any new housing should be built. There are KDAs – Key Development Areas, including Yonge & Bernard, Yonge and 16th, and Richmond Hill Centre – Yonge and Hwy. 7. These areas will look a lot different than they do now due to them all being identified as areas that can accept significant intensification of density.
Transportation plans. Recognizing the inconvenience of the Yonge Street construction of the BRT, we are fortunate to have had a lot of investment in transportation, and there will be more. Any future growth should take into account these transportation investments.
Affordable housing. Housing is expensive here. We need to think hard and creatively on how best to create communities where we can all live, not just an elite few. The current OP does speak to increasing affordability but in 2020 this is an even more urgent issue as housing becomes more unaffordable for many of our citizens
Employment Land Conversion. During any planning process we need to be able to provide spaces for jobs of many kinds. This will allow more people to work here, hence have less traffic and a better quality of life. There was a recent to council on Employment area conversion requests
The existing OP was started over 10 years ago and referred to manufacturing and farm land and accommodating drive throughs and gas stations. Now we’ll be needing to decide about electric vehicle charging stations, working from home, home deliveries, and of course, emergency preparedness, if it is an ice storm or dealing with a pandemic.
The OP and other documents are available on the Richmond Hill’s website.
Part 1 is the main one. It is quite readable. Just knowing they exist is important.
Regard it as a good distraction from the news about COVID-19!
Official Plan: Part 1
Chapters 1-7: Part 1 Plan (includes Schedules and Appendices)
Official Plan: Part 2
Chapter 10: Downtown Local Centre Secondary Plan (repealed effective July 3, 2019)
Chapter 12: Yonge and Bernard Key Development Area Secondary Plan (adopted, under appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board)
Other interesting documents
2013 Parks Plan
Cultural Plan 2011