March 29, 2007
Media Release

York Regional Council endorses preliminary draft of York Region Sustainability Strategy

 
Regional Council directs staff to enter into consultation phase
 
NEWMARKET – York Regional Council today approved the preliminary draft of the York Region Sustainability Strategy, a plan that outlines a new approach to decision-making that better integrates economic, community and environmental objectives.
 
“The idea is to create a framework for making more informed and improved decisions about growth management and municipal responsibilities that speak to sustainability, engagement, implementation and monitoring.” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  “We want to ensure that this strategy is the way our residents and stakeholders want to approach the long-term, growth-related challenges facing our Region.”
 
The framework consists of more than 80 action items obtained from public consultations that are organized under the themes of corporate culture of sustainability, healthy communities, economic vitality, sustainable natural environment, public engagement, education and partnerships, and implementation and monitoring.
 
“A formal decision-making model will enable us to both track and strengthen the positive impact of all our existing and future sustainability initiatives,” said the Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee Chair James Young, Mayor of the Town of East Gwillimbury.  “This strategy will enrich the quality of life for regional communities and position the Region as a leader in sustainability-based governance in Canada.”
 
York Region already has a strong foundation for sustainability in the Regional Official Plan and Vision 2026.  The Region continues to make progress with sustainability initiatives, such as York Region Transit and Viva Rapid Transit, the Water for Tomorrow conservation program, our Greening Strategy, our Centres and Corridors initiative and our LEED Standard for regional facilities.  The Sustainability Strategy represents the next step towards becoming a more sustainable region.
 
Regional Council directed staff to refine the draft strategy with stakeholders, experts and local municipalities.  The Region will now hold a series of stakeholder workshops and focus groups in the spring and bring forward a final strategy for Regional Council approval in June.
 
Along with the findings from York Region’s Growth Management public consultations, the Strategy will guide Regional staff in reviewing and updating the Regional Official Plan.  It also will feed directly into the Infrastructure Master Plan updates for water, wastewater, transit and transportation.
 
York Region’s website – 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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For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca
 
Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications, York Region
 Phone: (905) 830-4444 Ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
 Cell Phone: (905) 251-6413  Email: tim.paleczny@york.ca
 
 
Backgrounder
York Region Sustainability Strategy provides framework for municipal decision-making
 
NEWMARKET – The draft York Region Sustainability Strategy provides a vision and strategic direction for long-term growth management in York Region and outlines a new approach to decision-making that better integrates economic, community and environmental objectives.
 
Definition of sustainability
The United Nations defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.”  Creating this inter-generational legacy involves integrating the three values of sustainable natural environment, economic vitality and social equity into all Regional decision-making processes.
 
Purpose and benefits of the sustainability strategy
• Provides a new approach for making decisions about growth management and municipal responsibilities that better integrate the economy, environment and community
• Makes good business sense in terms of increasing our competitive advantage for the future, energizing our employees, increasing efficiency and productivity
• Translates the concept of sustainability into practical action
• Aligns and coordinates current initiatives, and identifies gaps
• Addresses the expectation and values of our public, stakeholders and employees
• Provides leadership not only to our public, but also in the provincial and national arenas
 
Guiding principles for implementing a “different way of thinking”
• Provide a long-term perspective on sustainability
• Evaluate using the triple bottom-line elements of environment, economy and community
• Create a culture of continuous improvement, minimizing impact and maximizing innovation
• Identify specific short-term achievable actions that contribute towards a sustainability legacy
• Set targets, monitor and report progress
• Foster partnerships and public engagement
• Raise the level of sustainability awareness through education, dialogue and reassessment
• Promote sustainable lifestyles and re-evaluation of our consumption and expectations
 
Sustainability strategy action examples (taken from the 80 action items recorded)
Action Area  Example
Corporate Culture of Sustainability • Initiate a sustainability training program to further engage staff, senior management and Regional Council
• Prepare a green procurement strategy that ensures that environmentally friendly and biodegradable products are given first priority
Healthy Communities • Continue to support human services by advocating for adequate funding and by fostering civic engagement
• Design new communities in the Region’s Whitebelt that prioritize the human condition with respect to health, social equity, culture, environment and sense of place
Economic Vitality • Ensure a triple-bottom line assessment of infrastructure initiatives and context sensitive design
• Develop a local food source strategy that increases awareness about production, processing and distribution
Sustainable Natural Environment • Identify and adopt a linked natural heritage system in collaboration with stakeholders, partners, area municipalities and conservation authorities
• Adopt a clean air strategy for York Region
Education, Engagement and Partnerships • Publish and distribute this Sustainability Strategy, inviting input from the public stakeholders and partner input
• Produce a citizens’ brochure and website on how the Region and its residents can contribute towards achieving sustainability
Sustainability Implementation and Monitoring • Develop a sustainability assessment template for all Regional policies, initiatives, and staff reports
• Report annually to the public and stakeholders on sustainability initiatives, indicators and issues
 
Examples of Regional achievements
 
• Centres and Corridors Strategies
• Public Transit and Viva Rapid Transit
• Smart Commute Initiative
• Water for Tomorrow
• Greening and Land Securement Initiatives
• Corporate Clean Air Task Force
• Wind Energy Feasibility Studies
• LEED Buildings Programs & Retrofits
• Waste Diversion Strategy
• Human Services Inclusivity Action Plan
• Housing Strategy
• Tom Taylor Place: Energy Efficient Affordable Housing
 
 
Examples of local municipal achievements
• East Gwillimbury: Energy Star Program, LEED Silver for all new Town facilities
• Markham: Green Bins, Pathway and Trails Master Plan
• Newmarket: Pesticides By-Law
• Richmond Hill: Wind Energy Project and Intensification Study
• Vaughan: Sustainable Community Project Block 39
 
Input is welcomed
Members of the public and stakeholder groups are invited to provide their input.  Please contact York Region at futureyork@york.ca or call 905-895-1231, Extension 1570, or to our mailing address:
The Regional Municipality of York
Planning and Development Services Department
17250 Yonge Street, 4th Floor
Newmarket, ON L3Y 6Z1
 
York Region’s website – 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.
 
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Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications, York Region
 Phone: (905) 830-4444 Ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
 Cell Phone: (905) 251-6413  Email: tim.paleczny@york.ca

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