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York Regional Council Highlights - November 16, 2017



Opening Remarks from Regional Chairman

York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson joined members of York Regional Council to commemorate Louis Riel Day. The Chairman acknowledged the important celebration which honours the legacy of Louis Riel, who is recognized for his role in leading two resistances to preserve Métis rights and culture as well as for bringing Manitoba into Confederation. Chairman Emmerson also recognized the important role First Nations and Métis have in the community.


2018 York Region budget tabled for review

York Region Finance Commissioner and Regional Treasurer Bill Hughes tabled York Region’s 2018 budget. This is the final year of a four-year budget plan that coincides with the current term of Council.

For 2018, the proposed budget of $3 billion is comprised of $2.2 billion in operating spending and $810 million in capital spending. The budget proposes a tax levy increase of 2.77 per cent for 2018, equivalent to an additional $65 on the average residential property tax bill.

The budget reflects sound public policy and delivery of high quality public services to the Region’s residents including infrastructure, policing and social services.

In addition to the budget, an option was presented to create a new Roads Capital Acceleration Reserve. Council will also consider an additional tax levy of one per cent in 2018. This would result in priority road projects to proceed sooner without increasing external debt. More information on this option will be presented at the Committee of the Whole meeting on December 7.

The proposed 2018 budget will be reviewed at the Committee of the Whole meetings on November 30 and December 7. It is scheduled to be forwarded to Council for approval on December 14.


Legalization of Recreational Cannabis

York Regional Council endorsed a resolution addressing Bill 174 – Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) has been actively working with municipalities to understand the impacts of cannabis legislation and to advocate for regulatory framework that would minimize adverse impacts on municipalities. Council supported AMO’s advocacy for funding and resources as follows:

  • Ensure that municipal governments are fully funded on a cost-recovery basis and provided the necessary supports for implementation and enforcement of the recreational cannabis use
  • Ensure the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care provide 100 per cent funding for public health programs to support programs related to the implementation of legalized recreational cannabis
  • Ensure municipal governments receive an appropriate portion of sales and tax revenue from the sale of recreational cannabis to fund the impacts on services and program
  • Ensure municipalities responsible for operating POA Courts retains all fine revenue associated with POA offences under Ontario’s Cannabis Act, 2017

In addition, Council adopted and endorsed a resolution put forth by the York Regional Police Service Board that calls on the provincial and federal governments to:

  • Provide additional funding to the Board to offset the additional expenses that York Regional Police will incur as a result of the Cannabis Act, the Criminal Code amendments and the Ontario Cannabis Act, 2017
  • Establish a stable funding program for cannabis-related law enforcement and to provide sufficient funding to the Board, at a rate of two per cent of the York Regional Police operating budget per annum

Bill 174 was introduced on November 7, 2017 and if passed, would regulate the use and distribution of recreational cannabis in Ontario once legalized by the federal government in July 2018. The Ontario government plans to establish an online and in-store retail model through a new established cannabis control board.


Appointments to the York Region Planning Advisory Committee

York Regional Council appointed members to the York Region Planning Advisory Committee. Members will provide input on Regional matters including:

  • Proposed new or revised plans, legislation and initiatives from Provincial ministries, Federal departments and other agencies that affect planning issues in York Region
  • Updates and amendments to the Regional Official Plan
  • Other studies warranting additional consideration, as referred by Regional Council or staff

Members appointed to the Planning Advisory Committee will serve for a term of up to four years, to coincide with the term of Regional Council. The committee’s first meeting will take place during the first quarter of 2018.


2016 Census Population and Household Demographic Data

York Regional Council received a 2016 Census Population and Household Demographic Data report and update on population and household data from the 2016 Census.

Census bulletin highlights include:
  • York Region’s population grew by approximately 77,400 between 2011 and 2016
  • York Region’s share of GHTA population has increased while the pace of growth is slowing
  • York Region’s senior population (65+) grew by almost 34 per cent from 2011 to 2016
  • York Region’s housing stock continues to diversify
  • The average persons per unit continues to decline
  • York Region residents speak more than 120 difference languages

Additional bulletins highlighting income, housing, immigration and agriculture trends in York Region and its municipalities can be found on the York Region Census page.

York Region uses Census data to provide the basis for York Region’s long-term population and employment forecasts to plan local programs and services, assess community needs and respond to demographic trends.


Creating a Regional Climate Change Action Plan

York Regional Council received a report outlining a proposed framework and timelines for development of a Regional Climate Change Action Plan. The plan is part of an ongoing effort to address climate change and meet provincial requirements.

It is recommended York Region’s official plan address the following:

  • Urban Structure
  • Complete communities
  • Transit and active transportation
  • Vulnerability/risk assessments and adaptation planning
  • Stormwater management planning
  • Green infrastructure/Low impact development
  • Watershed planning
  • Natural heritage and water resource system protection
  • Energy planning
  • Food security
  • Protecting the agricultural land base
  • Low-carbon communities, with a long-term goal of net zero communities

The Regional Climate Change Action Plan will be developed through consultation with local municipalities, conservation authorities and the public. It will build on the policies, procedures and community energy plans previously established by local municipalities. An initial version of the Regional Climate Change Action Plan will be presented to Council in the first quarter of 2019.

Once finalized, the plan will work alongside the Region’s Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan to offer additional opportunities to implement greenhouse gas reductions across the organization and the Region’s communities.


Holiday Shopping Bylaw

The Regional Municipality of York announced it will enact a Holiday Shopping Bylaw to permit local retailers to operate on public holidays, should they choose to do so. The only Region-wide exception is Christmas Day, when all businesses are required to close. The purpose of the bylaw as outlined in the report is to establish a consistent approach to retail operations in York Region. The bylaw will be effective January 1, 2018.

For more information view the Holiday Shopping Bylaw


York Region provides update on key Water and Wastewater Infrastructure projects

York Regional Council received an update on key water and wastewater infrastructure projects required to support growth and maintain infrastructure already in place across York Region’s nine cities and towns.

There are more than 140 projects planned or underway, focusing primarily on building the main sewer system and ensuring reliable service while proactively maintaining the current system.

Projects highlighted in the report include:

Over the next 10 years, York Region is on track to deliver $2.4 billion in environmental infrastructure across all nine local cities and towns. As York Region’s population grows, the water and wastewater system must be able to accommodate residents’ needs. Priority projects are identified and the timing of these projects is aligned to deliver the required capacity to service growth.


York Region updates its long-term residual waste strategy

York Regional Council approved a series of actions including contract extensions and amendments to secure additional energy-from-waste and long-term landfill capacity to maintain 90 per cent diversion from landfill and secure the Region’s future waste diversion options. The actions will also provide dependable contingency waste disposal options, while minimizing the Region’s overall carbon footprint.

In 2016, York Region diverted 91 per cent of waste from landfill, exceeding its 90 per cent target established in the Regional Official Plan. Based on York Region’s growing population and projected waste generation rates, the Region will need to manage over 180,000 tonnes of material by 2022.


York Region partners with LSRCA on phosphorus removal project

York Region will partner with Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) to undertake phosphorus removal projects at two stormwater management facilities in northern York Region. By partnering with LSRCA the Region will be better prepared to deliver an alternative and innovative approach to the proposed phosphorus offsetting program while providing maximum environmental benefit to the watershed.

The phosphorus offsetting program is an integrated component of the proposed Upper York Sewage Solutions project, that once approved, will accommodate growth in the Region while staying within the phosphorus limits required by the Lake Simcoe Protection Act.

York Region is currently awaiting provincial approval to implement the proposed innovative sewage servicing solution that will accommodate growth in the Towns of Aurora, East Gwillimbury and Newmarket.

Phosphorus occurs naturally in the environment and is an essential nutrient needed by plants and animals. Although some phosphorus is required to support a healthy aquatic ecosystem, too much phosphorus leads to excessive growth of plants and algae in the lake.

Recently, LSRCA developed the Lake Simcoe Phosphorus Offset Program along with the offsetting policy for the entire watershed in an effort to control phosphorus loads throughout the watershed.


Enhancing services at Regional Drop-off Waste Depots

Beginning January 1, 2018, York Region is revising hours of operation at its Hazardous Waste Depots, Community Environmental Centres and Georgina Transfer Station and will be implementing a weight-based fee of $125 per tonne for residual waste in excess of 100 kilograms. Visitors with less than 100 kilograms of residual waste continue to pay a $10 fee to discard their waste.

Based on resident feedback, the revised hours will better meet resident needs and enhance their experience by providing an additional 480 additional hours of service annually, and offer more options to manage their waste disposal needs. Residents will now be provided access to a Hazardous Waste Depot seven days a week.

The revised weight-based fee for residual waste is consistent with municipal depots in neighbouring Regions and will not impact residents using local curbside waste collection programs.

Once enhancements to the two Community Environmental Centres are complete later this fall, five Regional waste facilities will accept municipal hazardous waste.


Update on Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres

The Regional Municipality of York received $9.1 million in provincial funding and responsibility for managing York Region’s Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres, effective January 1, 2018. The change comes as part of the Ministry of Education’s efforts towards modernizing the early years sector to better support children and families through integrated, accessible and responsive services.

The Region will develop a unique “made in York” plan for existing child and family centres in York Region that ensures access for all residents. There are currently 69 Ministry-funded sites in York Region that provide child and family programming. These sites will be part of the new Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres located throughout the Region to support children, parents and caregivers in learning, growing and connecting together.

York Region has more than 71,000 children from birth to 6 years of age, representing 6.9 per cent of the Region’s total population. In 2016 and 2017, more than 104,000 visits were made by children to child and family programs in York Region. Parents and caregivers accounted for an additional 98,000 visits during the same time-frame.

Since 2013, York Region has received $31 million in ongoing provincial funding with increased responsibility and flexibility to address local needs. The funding has been used to:

  • Enhance the provision of high-quality licensed child care through integrated system planning
  • Decrease waitlists for child care and early intervention services
  • Build capacity in licensed child care
  • Administer wage enhancements to better support quality Registered Early Childhood Educators

Helping the chronically homeless find a home

The Regional Municipality of York received additional provincial funding of $1.5 million over three years to help address chronic homelessness and establish the Home Now program. The program will move people who are chronically homeless into permanent housing as quickly as possible and with no preconditions.

Delivered by community agencies on behalf of York Region, Home Now will also provide support for other complex needs typically found in those who are homeless, such as mental health, substance abuse or history of abuse/trauma.

Affordable housing is a key priority for York Regional Council. Chronic homelessness refers to individuals who have been homeless for six months within the past year. People who are homeless typically spend lengthy periods of time in emergency housing, seasonal shelters, live in precarious housing situations or sleep in accommodations not fit for human habitations. In 2016, there were 1,554 unique individuals using York Region emergency housing services. Of these, 239 were chronically homeless.

In 2012, Council adopted a new vision focused on promoting housing stability by proactively helping people who are homeless to obtain housing and people at risk of homelessness to remain housed. The Region’s commitment for strengthening the service system is outlined in York Region’s 10-Year Housing Plan, Housing Solutions: A place for everyone.


Housing York Inc. approved key Housing York Inc. approved key deliverables as part of 2017-2020 Plan

Housing York Inc.’s 2017 to 2020 Plan Achieving New Heights Through Innovation and Sustainability outlines key actions for the Housing York Inc. Board of Directors. The Board approved the following:

  • Introduction of new mission and vision statements for Housing York within the Regional strategic framework
  • Creation of an Energy Management Plan to guide future energy initiatives
  • Development of a consolidated long-term fiscal plan

1. Vision and Mission Statements
 
The new Vision and Mission statements were developed following a consultation process throughout 2017 which included the Board of Directors, staff, partners and residents.

Vision: Housing York Inc. is a leader in affordable housing, building inclusive communities that everyone would be proud to call home

Mission: Housing York Inc. is a responsible and caring landlord. We work with residents and partners to deliver housing programs and services that are important to our communities

The new statements were created to align with the Region’s Vision, Mission and strategic objectives.
 
2. Long-Term Fiscal Plan
 
Accountability, safeguarding assets and effectively managing resources are the key elements of a new long-term fiscal plan.
The plan includes three elements:

  • A reserve strategy that recommends changes to current reserves to ensure Housing York can effectively respond to capital and operating needs
  • A new operating surplus policy that establishes a framework for the allocation of operating surpluses
  • An updated investment policy to ensure prudent management of Housing York’s working capital and reserves

Housing York will be requesting $3.6 million annually from the Region’s Non-Profit Housing Capital Repairs Reserve. The Non-Profit Housing Capital Repair Reserve was established in 2002 to ensure social housing is well maintained. Through the annual budget process, $9.3 million is contributed annually to this reserve.

3. Energy Management Plan
 
The development of an Energy Management Plan was approved based on the following principles:

  • Upgrade with high energy efficiency component at end of component life
  • Continue and expand energy education and awareness initiatives with residents
  • Upgrade high energy efficient components before of life if cost recovered is eight years or less
  • Pursue high/aggressive level of investment initiatives when Provincial or Federal funding is available

Past energy initiatives through Housing York Inc. resulted in annual savings of more than $140,000 and an annual reduction of 266 kilogram tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of recent Housing York initiatives include a community champions program that engages residents in energy conservation and replacement of conventional parking lot light fixtures with LED lighting.


Energy Management Plan

The development of an Energy Management Plan was approved based on the following principles:

  • Upgrade with high energy efficiency component at end of component life
  • Continue and expand energy education and awareness initiatives with residents
  • Upgrade high energy efficient components before of life if cost recovered is eight years or less
  • Pursue high/aggressive level of investment initiatives when Provincial or Federal funding is available

Past energy initiatives through Housing York Inc. resulted in annual savings of more than $140,000 and an annual reduction of 266 kg tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of recent Housing York initiatives include a community champions program that engages residents in energy conservation and replacement of conventional parking lot light fixtures with LED lighting.


York Region Transit’s Ridership Growth Study

York Regional Council received the 2018 Ridership Growth Study. Building on YRT’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, the report identifies initiatives in the short, medium and long-term that has the highest potential to attract and grow ridership. These initiatives, provide the opportunity to grow YRT/Viva ridership by an additional 500,000 riders over the next decade.


Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan and Rapid Transit in York Region

York Regional Council endorses Metrolinx’s draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan. The 2041 Regional Transportation plan seeks to align the transportation network in the Greater Toronto Area with land use. To achieve this goal, the plan focuses on five strategies:

  • Completing the delivery of current Regional transit projects
  • Connecting more of the GTA with frequent rapid transit and GO Transit’s Regional Express Rail program
  • Optimizing transportation to address first and last-mile transit connections
  • Integrating land use and transportation through urban intensification
  • Preparing for the future with plans to address climate change and incorporate analytics and data

York Region staff provided feedback on the Regional Transportation Plan and asked for a few additions to the Regional Transportation Plan including:

  • Delineating both phases of the Downtown Relief Line project
  • Include Bus Rapid Transit on Yonge Street north of Davis Drive and on Green Lane to connect to East Gwillimbury GO Station
  • Include Major Mackenzie Drive, east of Leslie Street to Don Cousins Parkway, as a future bus rapid transit corridor
  • Opposition to any increase in freight rail traffic through the Region

The Regional Transportation Plan is scheduled to be presented to the Metrolinx Board by the end of 2017 and York Region will continue to work with Metrolinx on implementation of this plan.


Vaughan Metropolitan Centre’s YRT bus terminal rename

York Regional Council approved renaming of “Smart!Centres Terminal – Vaughan Metropolitan Centre” to “SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal.”

Naming rights were granted in 2012 to SmartCentres in return for their contribution to building a tunnel to connect to the subway station as well as arrangements relating to the location of the terminal. The change in property name more closely aligns with their strategic business plan and has no financial impact on the project.


2018 Municipal election policy approved

York Regional Council approved two policies pertaining to the upcoming 2018 municipal election: the 2018 Municipal Election Policy regarding the use of municipal resources during the 2018 campaign period and the Municipal Election Recount Policy. Council also approved the creation of a Joint Election Compliance Audit Committee to review, if required, applications from electors with questions regarding campaign finances.

The Election Policy encompasses items included in the Municipal Elections Act and is applicable to all candidates running for a seat on Regional Council, members of Regional Council, Registered Third Parties and Regional employees.

York Region’s Municipal Recount Policy applies only to an election conducted for the Office of the Regional Chairperson where the successful candidate for Regional Chair is separated from the next closest candidate by 25 or fewer votes.


e-bid five-year contract awarded

York Regional Council approved a five-year contract to eSolutions Group Ltd. for services relating to the provision of an online bidding platform. This change is an example of the Region’s efforts to modernize and transform our business process.

Unlike previous contracts, York Region will not be required to pay a fee for access to the bidding software. Bidders will pay a fee in order to bid on Regional procurements. The estimated savings to York Region by moving to this model is approximately $35,000 over the next three years.


Proposed tax exemption for Regional transit facilities

York Regional Council will request the Minister of Municipal Affairs make regulatory changes to exempt Regional transit facilities from property taxes. Tax treatment on transit facilities is inconsistent in Ontario, and other municipal services in York Region currently enjoy property tax exempt status by way of Municipal Capital Facilities Agreements.


Next regular meeting of York Regional Council

York Regional Council will meet on Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 9 a.m. in the York Region Administrative Centre Council Chambers, located at 17250 Yonge Street in the Town of Newmarket.


The Regional Municipality of York consists of nine local cities and towns, and provides a variety of programs and services to 1.2 million residents, 51,000 businesses and 600,000 employees. More information about the Region’s key service areas is available at york.ca/regionalservices

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Compiled by:
Lauren Villani, Corporate Communications Advisor,
The Regional Municipality of York
Phone: 1-877-464-9675, ext. 71207, Cell: 905-251-6412
Email: lauren.villani@york.ca


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