June 22, 2006
Media Release

York Regional Council receives final report from Towards Sustainability in York Region Advisory Group

Advisory group recommends core values, extensive input under review
NEWMARKET – York Regional Council today received the final report from the Towards Sustainability in York Region Advisory Group, which features a high-level vision and strategic direction for long-term growth management in York Region.
“Regional Council agrees that the solutions to the Region’s growth and development challenges require a triple bottom-line sustainability approach that simultaneously creates benefits along economic, community and environmental lines,” said York Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  “We are looking in detail at how the Region can apply the recommended, long-term, holistic approach to address growth-related challenges facing the Region over the next 30 years.”
The goal of the advisory group is to provide the Region with advice that equally emphasizes economic, social and environmental values at the front-end of Regional processes and decision-making.  Comprised of representatives from the environmental sector and development industry, the advisory group is one part of a broader dialogue that includes the business sector, the community and environmental groups.
“Our challenge now is to implement the recommendations that are feasible to make the Regional Official Plan an even more sustainable foundation for our future,” said the Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee Chair James Young, Mayor of the Town of East Gwillimbury.  “We are eager to add to the Region’s sustainable initiatives already underway, including York Transit/Viva, the Water for Tomorrow conservation program, our Greening Strategy, and our Centres and Corridors initiative.  We have a great start and we need to do more.”
As part of the report to Council, Regional Council endorsed seven key recommendations for short-term implementation by York Region, as follows:
1. Complete a linked natural heritage system across York Region, in consultation with local municipalities and Conservation Authorities.
2. Utilize a sustainable development theme in the growth management review which will update the Regional Official Plan review and Infrastructure Master Plans.
3. Consider the establishment of an “Office of Progress Towards Sustainability” to provide advice towards achieving Regional Official Plan objectives.
4. Improve on sustainability monitoring and reporting.
5. Strengthen sustainability dialogue with informal meetings between Regional partners and Senior Management.
6. Commit to becoming a leader in sustainability-based governance and decision-making.
7. Undertake triple-bottom line assessments of the outcome of these key recommendations.
Council has directed staff to report back on the advisory group’s report and to bring forward a detailed Sustainability Strategy work plan. 
Along with the findings from the Sustainability Symposium and Growth Management public consultations that took place from May to June 2006, the work of the advisory group will guide Regional staff in reviewing and updating the Regional Official Plan as well as the Region’s Growth Management Strategy.  It also will directly feed into the Infrastructure Master Plan Updates for water, wastewater, transit and transportation.
According to the advisory group, all Regional programs and policies should explicitly reference sustainability and integrate the following three core values:
• Global Context – Ensure that York Region takes responsibility locally and does its part to contribute to global sustainability
• Sustainable Development – Integrate sustainable development as an explicit theme into all Regional programs and decision-making processes
• Leadership – Establish York Region as a leader in sustainable development planning and best practices in Canada in terms of policy and investment
Dr. David V.J. Bell, Professor Emeritus, Senior Scholar and Former Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, acted as facilitator of the advisory group’s discussions.
York Region’s Web site – www.york.ca – provides information on the Region’s Sustainability Initiative as well as 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
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Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications, York Region
 (905) 830-4444 Ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
 Corporate Communications After-hours Pager: (905) 830-3302
 Email: tim.paleczny@york.ca

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