May 11, 2005

Governments need to address growth issues together,FCM study finds

NEWMARKET – The range of challenges facing Canada’s largest cities and urban areas – including York Region – requires the attention of all levels of government, according to a new report released today by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
Growth, the Economy and the Urban Environment, the third theme report in FCM’s Quality of Life Reporting System (QOLRS) series, finds that booming urban economies and increasing population will require governments to invest in new infrastructure, human services and initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts.
“York Region has anticipated growth and we have excellent plans in place – we just need help implementing them,” said Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  “Many of the big questions facing York Region are components of larger solutions that cannot be undertaken without the assistance of senior levels of governments.”
The report identifies increasing incomes and population as positive economic impacts that fuel a construction industry and urban growth.  The report demonstrates the need for municipal, federal and provincial governments to work together to meet the challenges associated with growth, including higher infrastructure costs, increased traffic congestion, air pollution, and solid waste management.
“How well the different levels of government work together to resolve the issues and address these challenges impact positively on the quality of life in our communities,” said Richmond Hill Regional Councillor Brenda Hogg, who is FCM’s QOLRS Committee Chair.  “We need the cooperation of senior levels of government to find and deliver long-term solutions.”
The QOLRS Report is based on data from 20 member cities and regional municipalities that comprise 40 per cent of Canada’s population.  For copies of FCM’s report and media releases, please visit
To obtain a summary of York Region’s initiatives that mitigate growth challenges, please see the backgrounder, “Challenges Associated with Economic Prosperity.”  For more information on the Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at
Contact:   Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications Services, York Region
(905) 830-4444 or (416) 297-9696, ext. 1238


Challenges Associated with Economic Prosperity
NEWMARKET – York Region’s robust economy continues to fuel urban growth, placing capacity pressures on infrastructure and human services that are costly but necessary.  To address these challenges, which have been anticipated, York Region will continue working on a range of programs and services.
Following are examples of the challenges that are associated with economic prosperity, rapid population growth and urban growth and development, along with brief descriptions of the planning, programs and activities that York Region has undertaken to mitigate them.
To protect our natural environment
Greening Strategy and Land Securement Strategy – The Regional Greening Strategy, the Greenlands Property Securement Strategy and other natural environment initiatives enable York Region to protect a healthy natural heritage system and environment for future generations. 
The Greening Strategy has nine action areas and more than 50 ongoing projects, many in partnerships with other agencies and organizations.  The action areas range from education programs to inform Regional partners and residents on what things they can do to support these goals, to working with other departments on Regional operations to reduce our corporate ecological footprint and other specific actions to address Kyoto Accord objectives.
Planting projects have put over 400,000 trees and shrubs in the ground.  Naturalization and Rehabilitation initiatives facilitating this significant accomplishment include the York Natural Planting Partnership for Private Property, administered in partnership with the Conservation Authorities.  This program provides landowners with the opportunity to reforest eligible land with financial subsidy.  Other programs include streetscaping initiatives and the Adopt a Stream Crossing Program where community and school groups are provided with education and a planting opportunity at Regional Road crossings of watercourses.
The Land Securement Strategy utilizes property acquisition tools in addition to securing priority greenlands through education and stewardship.  Regional Council also established a reserve fund of over a million dollars annually to support this commitment to land securement.  Since the adoption of the Strategy, 580 acres of land have been secured through 14 key land acquisitions.

To achieve a more compact urban form which includes both reducing urban sprawl and increasing density
York Region's Centres & Corridors Strategy - York Region's Official Plan calls for the creation of compact well designed communities in order to protect our agricultural lands, rural countryside and green spaces such as the Oak Ridges Moraine.  The strategy calls for the direction of a significant portion of growth to urban centres linked by rapid transit corridors.
Regional centres are vibrant, higher density, mixed-use precincts that serve as the Region’s “downtown.”  York Region has designated and prepared detailed plans for our Regional centres.  They include Markham Centre, Newmarket Centre, Bayview Glen in Richmond Hill and the Vaughan Corporate Centre.
Regional centres are linked by the Regional corridors of Yonge Street and Highway 7, which have the greatest opportunity to add new housing units, employment and services in a mixed-use form that is supportive of higher order transit services.
To achieve the safe, efficient, and effective transportation of both people and goods in the Region.
York Region’s Transportation Master Plan - defines a long-term transportation vision and integrated road and transit network plan that will support growth in York Region to the year 2031. The plan includes a framework for decision-making, policies and programs to support the long term vision and plan, and an implementation strategy based on five-year action plans.
To reduce gridlock and improve air quality
Public Transit Initiatives - Since 2001, ridership in York Region has grown by over four million riders, or an average of 10.5% per year. In 2004, YRT carried over 13.8 million passenger trips, an impressive 14.3% increase over the previous year.  YRT experienced the highest growth rate in the GTA and one of the highest in Canada (as per Canadian Urban Transit Association statistics).  This increase can be attributed to the tremendous rate of population growth and related increases in transit service levels. Since 2001, the hours of revenue service have increased by an average of 16% per year. This unprecedented investment in public transit reflects York Region’s commitment to the system’s expansion and the development of a more balanced and transit supportive transportation network.
To reduce travel demand
The Smart Commute Initiative – is an ambitious transportation demand management initiative that aims to work with the existing road transportations system (or supply) by working to reduce the users on the roads (or demand).  Initiatives include carpooling, vanpooling and car sharing programs, including a possible carpooling program for York Region employees.

To improve air quality
Corporate Clean Air Task Force – Coordinated by York Region’s Health Services Department, the Task Force has developed four action plans including the Auto Trip Reduction Plan, Corporate Smog Alert Plan, Green Fleets Plan and the Green Procurement Plan.
The following are examples of some of York Region's clean air actions:
• Implemented 20/20 The Way to Clean Air, a social marketing campaign to help homeowners reduce both home energy use and vehicle kilometres travelled by 20%.
• Assisted local sources to reduce emissions of air pollutants and Greenhouse gases
• Phased-in Pesticide Reduction Guidelines for Lands Owned by the Regional Municipality of York.
• Educated the public in regards to Anti-Idling Awareness, Smog Alert Resource Kit, Forest Awareness and the Walk to School Program.
• Promoted energy conservation and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions during special events, such as Earth Day, Region-Wide Community events, and the York Children's Water Festival.
To use less water
Water for Tomorrow - is York Region's Water-Use Efficiency Program that involves homeowners and businesses in retrofit programs, water audits for large users, leakage reduction, public education, summer water use reduction, and York Children’s Water Festival.  The program currently saves more than 22.4 million litres per day of water, which is equal to 8 per cent of York Region's current water demand, or enough to serve a town of 84,500 people.
To meet the long term need for water through to 2036
Long Term Water Master Plan Update - integrates infrastructure requirements for existing and future land use with environmental assessment planning principles, and recommends a phased infrastructure program to meet the demands for water through to 2036.
To reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill
Municipal Solid Waste Management – In conjunction with the nine local municipalities, York Region has implemented a three-stream waste diversion system.  The system includes:
• a separate collection of food waste known as source-separated organics (SSO),
• an enhanced Blue Box recycling program to include different types of plastic currently discarded as garbage, and
• a new composting pilot program in Markham, which may be expanded to most of the other communities over the next few years.

The QOLRS Report is based on data from 20 member cities and regional municipalities that comprise 40 per cent of Canada’s population.  For copies of FCM’s report and media releases, please visit
For more information on the Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at
Contact:   Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications Services, York Region
(905) 830-4444 or (416) 297-9696, ext. 1238

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