York Regional Council Highlights - Thursday, November 23, 2023
Livestreaming of the public session of Council and Committee of the Whole meetings is available on the day of the meeting from 9 a.m. until the close of the meeting. Past sessions are also available at York.ca/councilandcommittee
2024 budget tabled at Regional Council
York Region’s proposed 2024 to 2026 budget was tabled at the Thursday, November 23, 2023 meeting of York Regional Council.
The operating budget focuses on day-to-day expenses and providing funding for asset rehabilitation and replacement, while the capital budget covers major infrastructure requirements. Together, they outline how York Region will use its finances to deliver essential services to our residents.
The proposed 2024 $4.2-billion budget includes $3.2 billion in operating costs and $1 billion in capital spending. These form part of a 10-year capital plan of almost $11.6 billion in spending. The $4.2-billion budget also includes a 1% Rapid Transit / Infrastructure Levy, similar to the 2022 and 2023 budgets.
The 2024 tabled budget includes some key drivers and pressures impacting program delivery, including inflation, legislative changes and pace of population growth in York Region.
Regional Council passed a motion requesting additional funding from the provincial government to pay for much needed infrastructure projects to support recent government direction.
The proposed 2.75% tax levy increase equals $78 per household, on average, and the 1% Rapid Transit / Infrastructure Levy averages an additional $27. This brings the total average household increase to $105.
York Region’s strong financial position is bolstered by a multi-year budget process to coincide with Council’s term of office. The proposed outlook tax levy increase for the remaining term of council was also tabled, and includes:
|Rapid Transit / Infrastructure Levy
Departmental presentations to Regional Council will be presented on November 30 and December 7, with anticipated budget approval on Thursday, December 21, 2023.
York Region requests funding to support provincial housing targets
Regional Council approved a motion requesting funding from the Province of Ontario to contribute to unplanned and accelerated infrastructure required to meet provincial housing targets. Included is a request for a capital contribution to York Region’s sewage, roads, transit and housing infrastructure costs, increasing by more than $2.6 billion as a result in changes to the Development Charges Act, 1997.
There are several provincial funding opportunities from which York Region is seeking assistance. In August 2023, the provincial government announced the Building Faster Fund, which could provide up to $400 million in total funding per year for three years to municipalities on track to meet their targets. York Region has requested eligibility for this funding be granted to upper-tier municipalities. As well, York Region is requesting the province make upper-tier municipalities eligible for funding under the Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund, which could provide up to $200 million in total funding over three years.
In addition, the province is being asked to confirm York Region will be made financially whole because of changes to the Development Charges Act, 1997.
Advancing the Region’s transportation network to meet current and long-term community needs
Regional Council received an update on the 2022 Transportation Master Plan focus areas, providing a 30-year framework to address the needs of travellers across the Region’s transportation network.
The plan identifies long-term transportation infrastructure, programs and future studies necessary to support growth and address changing traveller needs up to 2051 through the following five focus areas:
- Safety for all Travellers: Address safety improvements for all travellers
- Transportation Equity and Inclusion: Ensure projects and programs encompass travel options inclusive of all ages, abilities, income levels, gender, race and cultures
- Reduce Car Travel: Provide viable alternative options to diminish dependance on automobiles, especially during rush hour periods
- Financial and Environmental Sustainability: Ensure transportation investment decisions are affordable and consider environmental impacts
- Role and Function of Regional Corridors: Ensure Regional corridors support the needs of communities for all types of travel
Currently, 36 of 44 initiatives are in progress, including advancing fare integration, efforts to deliver the Yonge North Subway Extension and add more active transportation infrastructure. Additional work in each of the focus areas will continue through the 2022 to 2026 term of Regional Council.
York Region recognized again for excellence in government budgeting and financial reporting
For the 19th consecutive year, The Regional Municipality of York has been recognized with the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its 2023 budget. Additionally, York Region has received the special Triple Crown medallion, recognizing the achievement of all three GFOA awards in the 2021 fiscal year.
Guiding the creation of the budget is York Region’s Fiscal Strategy, supporting the long-term goal of financial sustainability through sound management of its capital plan, reserves and use of debt. Strong financial oversight enables York Region to maintain a Triple A credit rating, the highest possible from both Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings.
To receive this award from GFOA, the budget document must meet program criteria such as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communication vehicle.
Vacant Homes Tax update
Regional Council voted against proceeding with implementation of the Vacant Homes Tax at this time as increased financing costs and lower house prices may mean fewer investors are buying homes and leaving them vacant. High potential for rent revenues may also see owners making vacant homes available for rent.
Based on updated information from KPMG, the Vacant Homes Tax is not expected to be self-sustaining in York Region. While the program may not be fiscally feasible, effectiveness of the policy on housing affordability and availability could be assessed through the Affordable Housing Implementation Plan expected in 2024 for Council consideration.
Staff will continue to monitor programs throughout Ontario and provide updates, as required.
Regional Council approves release of capacity to local municipalities to support building homes faster
Regional Council approved a water and wastewater capacity assignment of 88,740 persons to support building more homes in York Region.
This capacity assignment supports roughly 80,000 new homes to be built in cities and towns serviced by the York Durham Sewage System (YDSS) system. It supports advancing 11,171 persons growth to cities and towns waiting on the YDSS Expansion Phase 1 as part of the York Region Sewage Works Project, as mandated by the Supporting Growth and Housing in York and Durham Regions Act, 2022.
Capacity assignments are determined using short-term growth forecasts, in consultation with local cities and towns and in consideration of provincial housing targets. Since 2005, a phased water and wastewater capacity assignment process has facilitated growth to over 1.3 million people, ensuring York Region remains a leader in environmental stewardship and servicing is in place prior to residents purchasing homes.
Over $4.5 billion of Regional water and wastewater infrastructure construction is planned over the next 30 years to support continued growth across the Region.
Between 2022 and 2031, servicing for 150,000 homes is required to meet 2031 provincial housing targets. New infrastructure plans and cost implications will be addressed in future capacity assignments. Given the funding gap and link to achieving provincial targets, the province would benefit from providing a funding contribution to the capital program.
York Regional Council approves 2023 to 2027 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan
Regional Council approved York Region’s 2023 to 2027 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan, which outlines how The Regional Municipality of York and York Regional Police are working to meet and surpass the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005.
Developed in consultation with people with disabilities, community members and the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee (YRAAC), the plan identifies actions across the following five areas impacting residents’ daily lives:
- Information and communications
- Design of public spaces
- Customer service
Multi-year accessibility planning was first established in 2013. Since then, York Region and York Regional Police have implemented and met all AODA requirements for broader public sector organizations. Building on foundations of accessibility accomplishments and actions, the two organizations continue to meet and, in some cases, exceed the AODA requirements.
York Region’s long-standing commitment to continuous improvement extends to accessibility and continues to drive the Region forward. Earlier this year, YRAAC marked its 20th anniversary, and since inception, committee members have shared knowledge, expertise and lived experiences to help make Regional programs, services and facilities more accessible.
Creating a welcoming, inclusive and accessible community for everyone aligns with York Region’s Vision, Regional Official Plan, 2023 to 2027 Strategic Plan – From Vision to Results, Accessibility Policy and Inclusion Charter for York Region.
The plan is updated every four years to coincide with each new term of Council and York Region’s Strategic Plan.
For more information, visit york.ca/accessibility
Preventing impacts of violence towards York Region paramedics
Incidents of violence against paramedics on the job have been increasing over the past three years, growing from 18 reported cases in 2020 to 60 cases as of September 2023.
Verbal abuse, physical threats and physical assault are the most reported cases, and unfortunately, these incidents can lead to personal trauma, lost work time and increased support expenses required to make paramedics feel safe and remain at work.
To help address the growing number of incidents, York Region Paramedic Services is taking a multi-step approach, including:
- Creating a culture of zero tolerance where paramedics feel supported in reporting incidents; violence is not an inherent “part of the job” and acts of violence against paramedics are underreported
- Launching a public awareness campaign echoing the zero-tolerance approach
- Offering threat management training for paramedics on de-escalation, disengagement and other conflict resolution techniques
- Introducing safety equipment aligned with Ministry of Health standards like soft restraints and spit hoods to protect against physical assault
Additional federal legislative changes, if passed, would further advance prevention of external violence and improve protections for paramedics. The two government bills before Parliament include:
- Bill C-321 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (assaults against health care professionals and first responders)
- Bill C-345 An Act to protect firefighters, paramedics and other first responders
York Region is committed to creating and maintaining a psychologically healthy workplace for all paramedic staff where they can continue providing a high level of service to the community.
For more information on paramedic services visit york.ca/paramedics
Implementing York Region’s first Community Safety and Well-Being Plan
York Region is putting the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan for 2022 to 2026 into action, making significant strides to enhance the safety and well-being of residents.
First approved by Regional Council in May 2022, the plan focuses on social development, prevention and targeted community-driven actions to achieve York Region’s Vision of strong, caring, safe communities where everyone feels like they belong, can access services and meet their needs.
The six strategic objectives outlined in the plan are being achieved through proactive, locally driven actions. Notable accomplishments within the first year of the plan’s implementation include:
- Forming Community Action Tables to support development and implementation of the plan and contribute to positive outcomes within the plan’s four focus areas. By the end of 2023, 83% of the plan's 122 Community Action Table action items are projected to be underway or completed
- Investing in community-led change with $7.3 million in senior government funding to prevent and reduce underlying risk factors that lead to gun and gang prevalence in York Region
- Working together, York Region and York Regional Police continue identifying opportunities to align projects and initiatives to foster stronger community relationships with local cities and towns and key community organizations.
- Allocating and coordinating resources through the Community Investment Fund remains a priority, including funding to support local implementation and drive policy change.
Under the Police Services Act, 1990, York Region is required to develop a Community Safety and Well-Being Plan and report on progress. York Region will continue to implement the plan and further develop the Region’s efforts to achieve its Vision of strong, caring and safe communities.
To learn more, visit york.ca/CommunityAction
Planning to prevent, address and reduce homelessness
York Region is working on a Homelessness Service System Plan to enhance how to respond to homelessness across our communities. The plan aims to prevent, address and reduce homelessness and is a crucial component of our next 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan.
The plan includes three main priorities: prevention and diversion, intervention and housing stability and designing a coordinated system response. To develop this plan, York Region will engage with local cities and towns, community agencies and people with lived experience.
During a Special Meeting of York Regional Council on Thursday, November 23, 2023, community partners and sector experts shared insights on challenges in addressing homelessness and effective initiatives organizations are leading to support people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
Partners and experts presented on what is happening in the community and the need for additional supports from all levels of government to increase affordable housing and elevate supports for those in need.
York Region will continue consultations in the coming months to inform the development of the Homelessness Service System Plan, which will be presented to Regional Council for consideration in 2024.
More information on York Region’s Homelessness Service System Plan is available on york.ca/planforhomelessness
Economic Development Action Plan nearing completion while York Region builds on success for new strategy
Regional Council received an update on the 2024-2027 Economic Development Action Plan Renewal Process, building on themes of business, innovation and talent from the 2020-2023 Economic Development Action Plan.
All 20 action items outlined in the 2020-2023 Economic Development Action Plan are nearing completion, largely due to collaborative efforts with local municipal economic development teams and other stakeholders.
Recent achievements include:
- Establishing a Regional presence with municipalities and local companies promoting the Region’s AutoTech sector at AutoTech Detroit
- Securing York Region as the location of the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association Conference over the next three years, in partnership with the City of Vaughan
- Showcasing York Region’s thriving technology and innovation ecosystem at Collision Conference
- Partnering with several municipalities to leverage the York Region Foreign Direct Investment Partnership Fund Program to attend events supporting investment readiness and business attraction initiatives
- Establishing a Regional presence at the 2023 Anuga Food and Beverage Trade Fair, in collaboration with Ontario Food Cluster and the City of Vaughan
- Partnering with several local municipalities and community partners to leverage the York Region Tourism Fund to promote and deliver local festivals and other events
In developing the 2024-2027 Economic Development Action Plan, a review of local municipal strategic documents revealed shared priority areas. Stakeholders agree to focus heightened attention in the agriculture and agri-food, automotive and auto tech, information and communications technology and life sciences and health tech sectors.
The updated plan will be presented to Regional Council in early 2024.
For more information on economic development and available resources to grow and expand a business, visit yorklink.ca
Celebrating Hindu Heritage
Regional Council recognized November as Hindu Heritage Month in Canada, acknowledging the contributions of Hindu residents across York Region.
Regional Council extended best wishes for a joyous and prosperous Diwali to all residents celebrating.
York Region honours veteran and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces
Regional Council celebrated Veterans’ Week from November 5 to 11, 2023, by thanking those who have served and continue to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces to protect the Canadian ideas of democracy, freedom and peace.
As part of the act of remembrance, Regional Council expressed gratitude to those who served in both world wars, the Korean War, the War in Afghanistan and other military conflicts and peacekeeping missions around the world. They also offered thanks to those who continue to volunteer and serve our country.
Treaties Recognition Week
Regional Council recognized November 5 to 11, 2023, as Treaties Recognition Week, acknowledging the importance of working together and sharing land traditionally occupied by Indigenous Peoples.
Treaties Recognition Week honours the importance of treaties, while helping all Ontarians learn more about treaty rights and relationships.
It also raises awareness of the treaty relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Ontario while also building equitable and respectful relationships that move us forward on the path of reconciliation.
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Regional Council recognized Monday, November 20, 2023, as Transgender Day of Remembrance.
This annual observance honours the memory of transgender people who have lost their lives in acts of hatred, bigotry and violence. It serves as an important reminder of the importance of building welcoming and inclusive communities where everyone can live with respect, dignity and free from discrimination.
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
Regional Council recognized Saturday, November 25, 2023, as the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which culminates with National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on Wednesday, December 6, 2023.
This solemn day is recognized in remembrance of the 14 women at Ecole Polytechnique Montreal, who in 1989 were murdered in a senseless act of violence against women.
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is acknowledged annually to honour lives lost and reaffirm a collective commitment to prevent and address gender-based violence.
Next meeting of York Regional Council
York Regional Council will meet on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at 9 a.m. in the York Region Administrative Centre Council Chambers, located at 17250 Yonge Street in the Town of Newmarket. The meeting will be streamed on york.ca/live
The Regional Municipality of York consists of nine local cities and towns and provides a variety of programs and services to more than 1.2 million residents and 55,600 businesses with more than 615,000 employees. More information about the Region’s key service areas is available at york.ca/regionalservices
Kylie-Anne Doerner, Corporate Communications, The Regional Municipality of York
Phone: 1-877-464-9675, ext. 71232 Cell: 289-716-6035