York Regional Council approves $3.3 billion 2021 budget
York Regional Council approved the 2021 budget which includes a 1.54% net tax levy, representing an increase of approximately $40 for homes with an average assessed value of $802,000. The approved increase is a reduction of 1.42% from the initial outlook tabled on February 25, 2021.
The 1.54% tax levy will be directed to Regional capital reserves, designated to support the Region’s robust 10-year capital plan which includes funding for new infrastructure to support growth, as well as funding to maintain and replace the Region’s existing assets.
Included in the $3.3 billion budget is capital spending of $763 million and an operating budget of $2.6 billion.
York Region continues to identify internal operational efficiencies and improvements, while making full use of almost $38 million in recent Safe Restart Agreements from the federal and provincial governments. In early March, the province announced
York Region would receive $21.1 million to help cover COVID-19 operating costs.
The four-year multi-year budget supports York Region’s four key priority areas of the 2019 to 2023 Strategic Plan: From Vision to Results.
Over the past year, the fiscal impacts of COVID-19 have affected every aspect of York Region’s operations. Strategic planning, finding efficiencies, reallocation of staff and service adjustments, in addition to maintaining a strong fiscal strategy, have enabled York Region to continue supporting provincially-mandated growth while still providing excellent services to 1.2 million residents.
York Region’s response to COVID-19
Throughout March 2021, Regional Council received a number of updates on York Region’s continued response to COVID-19 and ongoing efforts to administer vaccinations to priority populations.
On March 1, 2021, York Region opened vaccination appointments to residents 80 years of age or older (born 1941 or earlier) two weeks ahead of the provincial timeline for this priority group. On the first day of appointment bookings more than 20,000 residents booked a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at one of five mass immunization clinics led by York Region Public Health and the local hospitals.
The opening of these clinics was followed with the opening of appointments for high priority health care workers on March 15, residents 75 years of age or older on March 17, residents 70 years of age or older on March 23 and residents 65 years of age on March 31, 2021.
To date, more than 205,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to York Region residents. This represents an important step forward in York Region’s COVID-19 response efforts as each day more residents are provided with an added layer of health protection.
As York Region Public Health continues efforts to vaccinate residents, Regional Council held a moment of silence on Thursday, March 11, 2021 in recognition of National Day of Observance for COVID-19. Council also honoured the now 564 York Region residents who have lost their lives to this virus by lowering flags at York Region’s Administrative Centre.
While COVID-19 vaccines will save both lives and livelihoods, Regional Council and York Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karim Kurji remind everyone it remains critically important to continue following public health measures, including staying home, maintaining distance from those outside the immediate household and wearing a mask when distancing cannot be maintained.
york.ca/covid19 remains the trusted source of reliable information for COVID-19 in York Region.
Moving forward on the Yonge North Subway Extension project
Regional Council received a presentation on the Yonge North Subway Extension Initial Business Case, which advances the project to the next stage of preliminary engineering and design.
This milestone represents a positive step forward to help deliver critical infrastructure on this high-volume transit corridor and supports Council’s vision of complete communities that support growth today and in the future.
The Yonge North Subway Extension is important for post-pandemic recovery in York Region and the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area. As Regional Council’s number one transit priority, the project will create thousands of new jobs, build a stronger economy and support the Region’s growth.
Region forecasts land needs to 2051
Results of the provincial land needs assessment identified a need for 2,300 hectares of community land and 1,100 hectares of employment land to accommodate growth to 2051. This equates to approximately 80% of the Region’s Whitebelt lands.
To support the highest share of growth in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area to 2051, York Region will continue to advocate to senior levels of government for funding for the Yonge North Subway Extension, to expand the Region’s Bus Rapid Transit and enhance Regional GO rail systems to support transit integrated communities.
The Region’s forecast and land needs assessment is informed by several Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) reports. Provincial plans and the land needs assessment are implemented by the Region through a MCR and Regional Official Plan update.
Regional Official Plan Policy update
As part of the Regional Official Plan (ROP) update being undertaken through the Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR), Regional Council endorsed preliminary policy directions to support draft policies regarding:
- Aligning Growth and Infrastructure
- Agriculture and Rural Areas
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Mapping Updates
The Regional Official Plan is being assessed to identify required policy and mapping updates to implement new provincial policies, including direction to plan for a York Region population of 2.02 million and 990,000 jobs by 2051.
The MCR process involves a series of background and direction reports to support planning for growth and updating the ROP.
Social Services Relief Funding
On Wednesday, March 17, 2021, York Region received $7.3 million through the provincial Social Services Relief Fund to build modular housing for vulnerable residents, including homeless youth.
As part of the Safe Restart Agreement, this funding will be dedicated to the construction of 16 housing units in the Town of East Gwillimbury and eight housing units in the Town of Georgina. In addition to providing safe housing, these units will also provide wrap-around supports to help vulnerable residents stay housed.
Next meeting of York Regional Council
York Regional Council will meet on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 9 a.m. To maintain physical distancing and protect the health and well-being of residents, this is currently planned to be a virtual meeting and 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 1.2 million residents and 54,000 businesses with over 650,000 employees. More information about the Region’s key service areas is available at york.ca/regionalservices