York Regional Council Highlights – February 24, 2022

York Region’s continued response to COVID-19

York Regional Council received a number of updates on the continued response to COVID-19, including memos on the Public Health emergency response and the Financial Impacts of COVID-19, and a verbal update from York Region Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barry Pakes.

York Region continues to take decisive and meaningful steps to protect residents, mitigate the rate of illness and death from COVID-19 and to ease impacts on hospitals and the broader health system.

Vaccination rates continue to increase with over 88% of York Region residents vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and among the five to 11 age group 61.6% have received their first dose and 84.4% of residents have received two doses. Booster doses have been administered to almost 50% of eligible residents 18 years and older. Vaccination coverage will continue to increase with the expansion of booster doses to all children aged 12 to 17 as of February 18, 2022.

With high levels of COVID-19 protection across York Region communities, Regional Council welcomed the February 14, 2022, provincial announcement which further reduced public health measures as of February 17, 2022 and will see proof of vaccination requirements removed from all settings as of March 1, 2022.

This expedited lifting of public health measures is a testament to York Region’s extensive mass vaccination efforts and the willingness of residents to follow public health guidance and roll up their sleeves for a COVID-19 vaccination.

While COVID-19 remains a threat in our communities, masking requirement will remain in place as other measures continue to be lifted. Residents are reminded that vaccines, including first, second and third doses, remain available through appointments and walk-ins at all York Region-led vaccination clinics and through participating pharmacies.

Beginning the week of February 28, 2022, York Region will begin to scale down mass vaccination efforts through a four-phase transition plan in order to match vaccination needs and demand in the community. This includes adjustments to clinic capacity, hours of operation, staggered closing of mass vaccination sites, the opening of smaller clinic sites and expansion of a mobile strategy to reach resident who have yet been vaccinated or received a booster dose. Update clinic information continues to be update at york.ca/covid19vaccine

The financial impacts of York Region’s COVID-19 response totalled $238 million for 2021, with an average weekly impact of $4.6 million. Senior government funding offset approximately three-quarters, or $180 million, in COVID-related costs. The 2022 York Region budget includes $159 million to accommodate projected pandemic operating costs and 2022 financial impacts to-date will be reported to Regional Council at the March 3, 2022, Committee of the Whole meeting.

More information about public health measures and vaccination availability can be found at york.ca/covid19

York Regional Council received an update on the Yonge North Subway Extension

Regional Council received a Metrolinx update on the Yonge North Subway Extension Alignment at a special meeting of Regional Council held Thursday, February 3, 2022.

The Yonge North Subway extension remains the top transportation priority project for Regional Council. The eight-kilometre extension will provide travel options for 94,100 daily riders, save up to 22 minutes on trips from the Region to downtown Toronto and reduce gas emissions by 4,8000 tonnes annually. Continued investment in rapid transit also creates new jobs, builds a stronger economy and improves quality of life in growing communities.

Several deputations and communications were received and Regional Council has instructed all correspondence be referred to Metrolinx. Regional Council also requested Metrolinx consider an improved compensation package for property owners impacted by the Yonge North Subway Extension.

Uniform rate structure being used for 2022 Development Charges Bylaw

York Region is updating its development charges bylaw, which helps fund growth-related infrastructure including water and wastewater, roads, police and transit across our cities and towns. For the first time, the bylaw will help fund the Region’s share of the Yonge North Subway Extension.

Regional Council endorsed in principle, a Region-wide development charges rate structure for all services included in the 2022 Development Charges Bylaw, including the Yonge North Subway Extension. The current area-specific development charge bylaw for the standalone wastewater system in the Village of Nobleton will continue to be in effect.

The draft 2022 Development Charges Background Study and Bylaw is planned to be tabled in March 2022. A final background study and bylaw would be provided for Council approval on May 26, 2022, with a proposed coming-into-force date of June 17, 2022.

YRT fares will remain at the rate set in 2019

Regional Council approved a continued freeze on York Region Transit (YRT) fares for 2022, maintaining the rates set in 2019 as residents continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

YRT continues to manage impacts to operating costs by adjusting service levels to meet demand, including replacing conventional service with demand response service in lower ridership areas.

Since early 2020, YRT has provided Mobility On-Request, a ride-sharing service, to York Region residents aged 65 and older with a trip to and from their residents to go to a vaccine appointment.

Recently, the Mobility On-Request service further expanded to all ages in the Town of Georgina, the Town of East Gwillimbury and the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, providing residents with transportation to and from a vaccination appointment.

2022 Provincial Budget Consultation

Regional Council received an update on the provincial budget consultation outlining York Region’s submission and feedback.

The provincial budget consultation process provides an opportunity for municipalities and other stakeholders to provide input for the 2022 provincial budget, helping to inform provincial priorities.

Key details of York Region’s submission include:

  • Requests for new revenue tools to help fund York Region’s share of the capital costs for the Yonge North Subway Extension
  • Continued collaboration with senior governments to provide funding to address municipal operating and capital pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Allocation of funds from the Non-Resident Speculation Tax collected in York Region to support affordable housing

The provincial budget will be tabled in the Ontario Legislature on March 31, 2022.

Regional Council advocates for an alternative land use planning appeals process

Regional Council has approved a motion calling on the Government of Ontario to engage municipalities to determine an alternative land use planning appeals process in order to dissolve the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT); a move which would eliminate one of the most significant sources of red tape delaying the development of more attainable housing in Ontario.

Municipalities across Ontario are required to develop and receive provincial approval of Official Plans that meet current provincial planning policy. Throughout this process municipalities invest significant resources, including municipal tax dollars, to ensure these plans meet the specific future needs of their communities.

Municipal planning decisions can be appealed through the OLT, an unelected, appointed body, who have the authority to overrule local decisions that meet provincial planning policy. Through this motion, Regional Council supports a review of this lengthy and costly process which continues to be a barrier to building to affordable housing in our cities and towns.

Updated rule for dogs in the York Regional Forest effective May 2022

Regional Council has approved an amendment to It’s in our Nature: Management Plan for the York Regional Forest 2019-2038. The amendment, effective Sunday, May 1, 2022, requires dogs to be on-leash at all times, unless in otherwise designated area(s) in the York Regional Forest.

Off-leash dog walking along trails will be permitted in the Bendor and Graves tract in the Town of East Gwillimbury and Davis Drive tract in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville. Popularity of off-leash dog walking will be monitored at these tracts and if needed an additional tract will be designated off-leash to accommodate this use.

York Region conducted an 18-month review and comprehensive public consultation to develop the updated rule. Engagement with residents and forest visitors included surveys and information sessions as well as feedback from cities and towns, conservation authorities and the York Regional Forest Advisory Team.

The proposed amendment supports the management plan’s vision and goals while better managing risk and continuing to provide an exceptional visitor experience.

Dog walking is one of the most popular uses in the York Regional Forest. Prior to COVID-19, dogs were required to be on-leash or under control in all tracts. At the onset of the pandemic, this rule was updated to all dogs must be leashed at all times. Learn more at york.ca/dogsurvey

Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Standard for Sewers Servicing New Development

Regional Council has approved implementation of the Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Standard for Sewers Servicing New Development. All nine cities and town across York Region are required to adopt the uniform standard by December 31, 2024.

Inflow and infiltration (I&I) occur when water other than sewage enters into sanitary sewer systems. It can lead to basement flooding, system surcharges or overflows to the environment and consumes system capacity triggering early-stage servicing challenges. The standard will ensure sanitary sewers are watertight at the time of construction using sound engineering requirements in design and vigilant inspection during construction and before assumption.

The standard was developed with local municipal and development industry partner engagement and collaboration. Over the coming months, the Region will work with industry partners and local municipalities on the phased rollout of the new standard.

Components of the standard have already been tested and implemented through York Region’s Servicing Incentive Program and Town of East Gwillimbury Sustainable Development Incentive Program.

Inflow and infiltration reduction has been an integral part to York Region’s One Water Approach and supports its goal of innovation and integration by reducing extraneous flows and freeing up capacity. I&I reduction enhances system resilience to climate change and supports the Region’s Climate Change Action Plan and Energy Conservation objectives by reducing energy consumption and associated pumping costs while improving the level of service to the public.

York Region Administrative Centre considered for heritage designation

The Town of Newmarket has received approval from Regional Council to proceed with a process leading to the heritage designation of the York Region Administrative Centre.

To be considered a heritage property, three criteria outlined in O. Reg. 9/06 of the Ontario Heritage Act must be met. These include design or physical value, historical or associative value and contextual value

Among the reasons why the Administrative Centre fulfils each of the criteria:

  • Displays a high degree of artistic value with its striking scale and curvilinear massing, including the nature of the horizontal waving bands of stone and glass
  • Demonstrates and reflects the work and ideas of prominent postmodern Indigenous Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal with its curvilinear massing and organic forms
  • Physically and visually linked to the topography of the land on which it is built; architect Douglas Cardinal specifically designed the structure to harmonize with the natural features of the landscape

As the leader in the heritage designation initiative, the Town of Newmarket anticipates providing a designation report to Newmarket Council for consideration in Q1 2022.

Forests Ontario selects York Region as recipient of Susan Wiecek Forestry Education Award

York Region is the proud recipient of the 2022 Susan Wiecek Forestry Education Award from Forests Ontario. The award demonstrates York Region’s continued leadership in environmental stewardship and education.

Since 2001, York Region’s Greening Strategy has delivered actions that have protected and restored our natural environment including forest-related educational programing, outreach events and public engagement.

In the past six years, over 250,000 residents have been engaged through 1,100 events and 1,330 Discover Your Forest Kits. York Region has also partnered with Forests Ontario to help deliver several environmental stewardship and education programs, including the school based Envirothon and Tree Bee competitions, and a Virtual Hike in 2021 for National Forest Week.

The Susan Wiecek Forestry Education Award is presented annually by Forests Ontario to individuals or organizations for outstanding contributions to forest education in Ontario.

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