Richmond Hill Ward 5 Living Letter

This Richmond Hill Ward 5 Living Letter is an example of how an elected representative communicates with his or her constituents. Such letters are published in a fixed print version regularly, e.g. the next time this one will be published on April 1 it will be the Richmond Hill Ward 5 Letter 2005-04-01, and it will contain an updated version of the Richmond Hill Ward 5 news.

Richmond Hill Ward 5 Living Letter (being edited)
Elio Di Iorio is the Councillor for this Ward.

Dear Resident,

I anticipate that all of you have made it through the winter season and are now enjoying the beautiful spring weather that mother nature has brought our way!

Hopefully many of you were able to attend the Winter Carnival that was held February 4 to 6 at the Mill Pond as it was an enjoyable time for all who participated. I would like to thank all of the Town staff and community volunteers who helped organize and contribute to the success of this year’s Carnival.

As many of you are aware, Mayor Bell announced on February 9 on behalf of Richmond Hill Council that the Town was going to withhold its share of the GTA pooling funds. This was a very powerful statement to make, sparking much needed debate at various levels of government, on the issue of sending valuable tax dollars to the City of Toronto for vague and unaccounted services. I firmly believe this money should stay within our community, being invested in local initiatives and helping the residents of Richmond Hill. To voice your opinion on this issue, please participate in the Web Poll found on the homepage of my website.

Many Ward 5 residents are eagerly awaiting the reopening of the Richvale Community Centre and Pool which is scheduled for May of 2005. I will keep you updated on the progress of this project.

At the February 28 Council meeting, a recommendation was approved to delay the startup of the household organics collection, also known as the green bin program, until at least September of 2006. The reasons for this delay is because of the challenges the Region of York has been experiencing with the collection facility, as well as the absence of any legislation from the provincial government to encourage increased waste diversion at the municipal level. On a positive note, the Town will be expanding its blue box collection program this summer. I will keep you posted on the Town’s waste management plans, programs, and initiatives.

Council has recently endorsed a new Facility Watch Program for Town owned and operated facilities. This program was created to deter and minimize potential incidents of violence and vandalism through public education and awareness geared towards positive behaviour. The main feature of this Program is the creation of a Code of Conduct which will be posted throughout the facilities and will be printed on pamphlets for residents to take home.

These are only some of the things that are taking place in our community, so I encourage you to check out my website, specifically the 'Our Community' section to find out about issues such as the Weldrick Relief Sewer, Community Gardens, and the 2005 Budget to name a few. Also remember to check out the Town of Richmond Hill’s website regularly to keep up to date on the happenings of our Town.

As always, I look forward to your comments and feedback! I can be reached at the office, 905-771-2510, on my cell phone, 416-705-3546, by e-mail, ediiorio at richmondhill.ca, or via the new Discussion Forum that has been setup on my website.

Councillor Elio Di Iorio

Richmond Hill Ward 5 news

Local vs Centralized Sewage Management

York Region has chosen to adopt a massive and centralized sewer system which is predicated on the idea that sewage can flow many kilometres to a treatment facility in a far away place, and that this system can then continue to develop ad infinitum in all directions. This is the ideal approach for developers and neo-classical thinking politicians who think that prosperity is synonymous with growth. See uneconomic growth.

The fact is that such an approach disregards both local and regional geological, social, and economic realities. In fact, they often undermine them.

Currently the Region is pushing forward with plans to build massive sewer pipes right through the Oak Ridges Moraine aquifers. That is right. Sewer pipes are being built in our water supply. Can anyone say WALKERTON? Our engineers and "hydrogeologists" (impressive sounding title, isn't it?) are telling us that this is a reasonable design. Funny how when I talk to engineers and consultants who are not affiliated with (or profiting from) this project are asked, they tell me that is is bad design and a bad idea. This is what happens when no one pays attention and the local media appears disinterested in reporting real news.

Weldrick Relief Sewer

On February 28, 2005, Council voted in favour of constructing a "relief sewer" along Weldrick Road from Yonge Street to the North Don River. This is necessary due to significant inaccurate assumptions on the part of the Region of York with respect to the viability of the larger 'Big Pipe' project which is currently underway throughout the Region. I discussed the situation surrounding this issue in previous newsletters, however, suffice to say, delays in obtaining necessary approvals has led to thousands of approvals being granted for new homes and homes being sold, resulting in potential delays of months and years in some cases. This relief sewer will bring additional capacity which exists on the North Don Sewer, taking overflow from the Yonge Street trunk sewer which is approaching capacity.

Councillor Elio Di Iorio says, "while I disapprove of the entire 'Big Pipe' approach to sewage management, it was clear that at this point, there was a risk of basements in Ward 5 being flooded if the relief sewer was not built."

Community Gardens

Community gardens are a way of providing an opportunity for those in urban areas who may not have sufficient land to grow a garden. Community gardens are typically located close to apartments and public transit to ensure accessibility and maximum resident participation. Parks Development & Design staff at the Town are currently looking at a way to integrate a Community Garden into a soon to be expanded park in the Harding Boulevard West and Arnold Street area. More details will be forthcoming later in the spring.

Car Co-op/Car Share

As we all know, traffic and transit issues in Richmond Hill and most of the GTA have been a major concern for some time. Decades of cheap oil along with poor urban planning has fueled the development of car dependent urban sprawl. Couple that with an inadequate public transit service, and we end up with the mess that exists today. As with many of the other areas of importance, i.e., health, energy, etc., there is no single step solution. There are, however, a number of tools and mechanisms which can be employed to reduce traffic and the other undesirable things that go along with it.

Councilor Elio Di Iorio reports that, "I am currently working with a not-for profit group which is planning to start a car co-op here in Richmond Hill. The idea is that people would be able to sign out a car for hours at a time to use when needed. The result, as evidenced by car co-ops in other cities, is a dramatic reduction in vehicle use amongst members. For example, the Vancouver Car Co-op has 1800 members sharing 94 cars. The reduction in greenhouse gases is also a key benefit of car co-ops."

Continuous Performance Audits for Richmond Hill

In the year 2000, the City of Baltimore adopted a system of measurement protocols for internal operations. The idea was borrowed from the NYPD in the late 1990's and was instrumental in improving the delivery of policing services and reducing crime. The result for the City of Baltimore has been savings of tens of millions of dollars, simply by measuring operational data, identifying trends, and posing questions to department heads. Richmond Hill Council has directed our staff to look into adopting a similar continuous municipal performance audit system.

Councillor Elio Di Iorio expects that, "we will ultimately be able to find significant savings while streamlining operations. This will help safeguard us from future tax rate pressures and ensure our financial position stays strong."

Peak Oil/Kyoto Protocol

Councillor Elio Di Iorio writes, "by now, many of you have seen or at least heard of the documentary End of Suburbia, if not, I urge you all to watch it. I have ensured that there are copies available at the Richmond Hill Central Library. While many believe that the complete destabilization of our biosphere through global warming will force us to change our behaviour dramatically long before declining oil production begins to cause major economic and lifestyle disruption for us in the western world, it is clear that many difficult decisions and new directions will need to be contemplated and acted upon in the very short term."

Councillor Di Iorio goes on to say that, "the global community recently ratified the Kyoto Protocol as a first step towards curbing green house gas emissions. Of course the USA remains in denial of global warming at the highest level of the Federal administration, however, it may be relevant only inasmuch as other forces around the world, i.e., Asia, Europe, Russia, are recognizing the potential in trading amongst themselves, thereby increasingly disengaging from the American market. It is clear that there is a massive global shift underway towards green development and energy conservation. Countries and cities that acknowledge this will be the winners from an economic development standpoint. I believe it is critical for Richmond Hill to recognize this and to continue taking steps towards energy self-reliance, and promoting community based economics."


York Region Transit will be launching VIVA, the new rapid transit service, in the fall of 2005 which will feature improved and increased Yonge Street service. This coincides with the new Regional Official Plan Amendment 43 which links planning and transportation goals, resulting in a mandate to achieve "transit supportive densities" on the major "centres and corridors".

Councillor Elio Di Iorio has stated, "That while it will improve connectivity to other major transit services, VIVA achieves little with regards to increasing the mobility of Richmond Hill residents seeking local services and employment. As a proponent of community based economics, I am not clear how this will truly benefit the residents of Richmond Hill, particularly Ward 5. I am much more excited about the idea of a car share program which would facilitate local commuting and promote community business and activities.""

Richmond Hill budget 2005

After weeks of Budget Committee of the Whole Meetings, Council has taken a number of measures to significantly shave down the initially proposed tax increase of 14.35% to a much more palatable 4.9%. "This year's budget represents prudent management of our fiscal resources, maintains our high level of service to our residents, and does not raid our financial reserves. While no one likes to pay more taxes, I think that the increase this year is reasonable and justified. Richmond Hill continues to be a well-managed, safe and clean community", stated Councillor Arnie Warner, Chair of the Budget Committee of the Whole. Final numbers will be available in the coming weeks.

Local Issue Forum

Councillor Elio Di Iorio writes, "I am pleased to be able to announce the launch of the eliodiiorio.com discussion forum. It is intended to provide an opportunity for residents to discuss local issues amongst themselves and contribute to policy-making for the Town. Please visit eliodiiorio.com/discussion to register and join the discussion."