July 7, 2006
Media Release

Growth Management consultations engage public

NEWMARKET – York Regional Council has approved an interim report on the public engagement activities for the Region’s Growth Management Review.  Regional staff commenced the public engagement efforts in March of this year to inform the public about challenges facing York Region, and to obtain comments and input from residents.  The responses will assist Council in understanding residents’ views on growth.
“For more than a decade, York Region has been under tremendous growth pressures that will continue,” said York Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  “Regional Council has indicated to the Province that York Region cannot accommodate this scale of growth without significant infrastructure investment in transit, human services and water and wastewater systems.”
York Region’s Growth Management consultations were undertaken in response to the Province’s population forecast of 1.5 million people for York Region by 2031, an increase of approximately 570,000 people from the current population of 930,000.
The consultation activities have included a sustainable development symposium, stakeholder workshops and community-based town hall meetings.  An information kit was provided to residents who attended the meetings and is available on York Region’s Web site at www.york.ca under “Planning for Tomorrow.”  This site also invites residents’ suggestions and comments that are input into the consultation results.
“We discussed the challenges ahead of us over the long term, we listened to comments and opinions from partners, stakeholders and members of the public, and we will continue to raise these discussions on the growth management decisions that we face,” said the Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee Chair James Young, Mayor of the Town of East Gwillimbury.  “We are taking a fresh look at our options.”
The public information sessions, written comments and interest group sessions have provided valuable input to assist Regional staff and Council in addressing the issues and challenges that are most important to residents.  Key issues discussed include:
The majority of people that came to the sessions recognized that growth was likely to occur and wanted to understand:
• How fast further growth would occur and how infrastructure and human services could keep pace with the growth
• The form and location of the growth – particularly how this additonal growth and intensification would fit into the existing community, particularly in terms of the quality of the urban design
Some individuals thought there should be a moratorium on further growth, that growth should be directed elsewhere and that forecasts were too high.

Protecting the countryside and preserving our natural heritage as a legacy for existing and future residents is a priority for residents.  Residents share concern over ground and surface water resources and the quality of Lake Simcoe.  In addition, there is support to protect existing farmland, but many people recognized that there are broad challenges relating to agricultural economics.

Traffic Congestion – Public Transit
Traffic congestion remains a top issue for York Region residents.  Traffic delays cost commuters time and impacts on the economy and air quality.  There was broad support for the Region’s transit initiatives.  Residents generally want more services and more integrated services, as well as facilities at transit hubs for parking to encourage commuters to take transit.
There was broad-based recognition and support for the launch of Viva, York Region’s rapid transit system as well as support for York Region Transit (YRT) service improvements that have taken place.
Residents are optimistic about the planned subway extension to Vaughan.  Residents expressed support for decision makers to ensure that intensification at higher densities occurs around the transit stations instead of other key intersections.
Human Services and Housing
There were many residents that felt that human services had not kept pace with the growth that had already occurred in York Region and that there needed to be more emphasis placed on these services in the future.  Many residents observed that housing in York Region is very expensive and we do not have a supply of affordable and rental housing which is needed now and in the future

The provision of energy, the need to conserve our resources and the need to develop a “Made in York Region” capacity to generate energy for our homes and businesses were of interest to those who attended the open houses.

Quality of Life
Most people expressed appreciation for the high quality of life that we enjoy in York Region as well as desire that this be maintained.  The maintenance of a high quality of life is important to York Region residents.  Residents’ comments suggest we must be mindful that quality of life is not impacted by the pace of growth, congestion, air quality or the loss of the natural environment.
Integration of Sustainability
There was agreement by the majority of residents that we need to more fully integrate environment, economics and social impacts into our decisions and to rethink and do many things better than they have been done in the past.
“We are in the process of building a city-region, which entails managing significant expansions to ensure that both human services and infrastructure keep pace with our growing needs while preserving our natural heritage – it’s a huge job,” added Chair Fisch.  “We need senior levels of government to address our needs for significant infrastructure funding and provide us with the tools required to implement growth, or else York Region will be unable to deliver as requested in a timely manner.”
York Region’s Web site – www.york.ca – provides information on the consultation meetings and issues and opportunities to submit online feedback.  Click on the “Planning for Tomorrow” icon on the main page for more information, or email your comments or questions to futureyork@york.ca   To speak with a Regional staff person, please call (905) 830-4444, Ext. 1570, 1532 or 1526.
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For more information on the Regional Municipality of York and the services our Region offers, please visit our Web site at: www.york.ca
Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications, York Region
 (905) 830-4444 Ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
 After-hours Pager: (905) 830-3302
 Email: tim.paleczny@york.ca

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