One of the topics that frequently comes up at the door as I am canvassing is what can be done to manage growth in Richmond Hill? This has become a topic that now dominates local headlines, causes significant debate at City Council, and has been the impetus for many neighbourhood discussions. While this topic cannot be exhaustively covered in a single article, I will try and cover some key elements of my strategy for positive growth in Richmond Hill.
Point #1 – Growth is Good As Long As It Is Good Growth
Growth will happen, and we need to find ways, and focus our energies, to ensure that we manage the growth so that it is a positive force that contributes to improving our quality of life. Growth, when managed well, brings opportunities.
To gain the maximum benefit from growth we need a solid plan to guide future development, and solid, committed leadership, to stick to the plan. We also need to ensure that, once the plan is in place, we ensure that Council and the Planning Department look to it as the key guide for positive growth.
We also need to guide development in a positive way and recognize the difference between a good development application and one that will not provide a net benefit to the community.
Point #2 – Managing Positive Growth Takes Collaboration & Constructive Dialogue
- We will never build the City we want until we establish a more collaborative approach with all stakeholders. We need to engage the public in a meaningful way when applications arise that are near to existing and established neighbourhoods.
- We also need to engage in dialogue with developers so that we achieve growth that respects and maintains existing neighbourhoods and community character. Our community’s character is intricately tied to the many unique and vibrant neighbourhoods in Richmond Hill.
- We also need to establish a proactive dialogue with the other key stakeholders – the Province, York Region and related organizations such as Metrolinx, etc. These parties are all key to solving the growth puzzle. The Province manages the overall growth plan that we must adhere to, the Region is responsible for major roads, policing, etc. while organizations like Metrolinx are key to managing transit infrastructure. Collaboration with all these stakeholders is a key element in providing positive growth.
Point #3 – Growth Must Accommodate Diverse Needs and Requirements
We must ensure that we are growing in a way that offers a wider range of more affordable housing choices for a wider range of people. Appropriately sized and quality developments can ensure that future growth provides a wide range of options for new residents.
I have always advocated for smart and appropriately sized development that is aligned with our various plans and policies, including our Official Plan. I have also advocated for well designed development that includes the amenities that will benefit all of us, such as parkland, retail amenities, employment opportunities, and public spaces that will provide value to, not just the new citizens, but the whole City.