Setting Priorities for the Benefit of York Region Residents
By Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and CEO, Regional Municipality of York
Regional Council has developed a set of priorities to help us sustain our growing communities in York Region. Our decisions are based on input and ideas from our constituents; students, families, workers and seniors.
The good news is our priorities align with the priorities of our senior funding partners, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada. For example, in the 2016 federal budget Ottawa introduced a new two-phase infrastructure plan that commits more than $120 billion over the next 10 years to improve and expand public transit, increase affordable housing, modernize water and wastewater infrastructure and enhance broadband service in rural and remote communities. This is an historic commitment to improve our communities.
We look forward to working with both Ottawa and Queen’s Park to secure specific funding commitments to advance our infrastructure priorities. York Region’s specific infrastructure priorities are:
- Improving rapid transit:
- Extending the Yonge subway north between Finch Station to the Richmond Hill is the number one priority of York Region. We believe this project will help create a seamless transit network connecting the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), and at the same time improve the environment by virtually eliminating the 2,500 daily bus trips now required along that section of Yonge Street, promote intensification, reduce urban sprawl and drive economic growth.
The Yonge subway extension north will include 5 stations, 2 intermodal terminals and 2,000 commuter parking spaces. As a result, it will lead to the development of 23,530 residential units and 25,000 jobs at the Richmond Hill / Langstaff Gateway Urban Growth Centre. When the Yonge subway extension is complete, Richmond Hill will be the equivalent of a Union Station north, offering commuters several transit options, providing them the choice and flexibility to get where they need to go in the GTHA.
- Advancing all-day, two-way GO rail service serving Markham, Stouffville, Vaughan, King and Aurora / Newmarket.
- Completing the final four Viva rapidway segments; along Yonge Street from Richmond Hill to Newmarket, along Highway 7 east from Unionville Station to Cornell, along Highway 7 west from Islington to Hwy 50 and at Yonge Street and Green Lane.
- Increasing the Region’s housing options by working with all levels of government to identify opportunities to sustain the housing system, committing long-term capital to develop new affordable housing in York Region, and opening doors to innovative long term financing alternatives for housing providers.
- Supporting the infrastructure costs to introduce water reuse in the Lake Simcoe basin. The Region’s proposed facility would be state-of-the-art in Canada, reducing the amount of phosphorous going into Lake Simcoe, benefiting all of the communities around the lake including Aurora, Newmarket and East Gwillimbury.
- Supporting public sector broadband initiatives throughout York Region. There are rural areas throughout the Region that lack broadband connectivity.
Here in York Region we are making progress to get people out of their cars and reduce greenhouse gases, to accommodate new Canadians and help them find a place to call home, and to grow our economy while protecting the environment. At the same time, we are aware of the fact that no government has endless resources. That is why members of Regional Council have taken steps to set priorities that are important to you and will help ensure we maintain our excellent quality of life well into the future.