Thursday, June 13, 2013

Renaming Hwy 7 to International Deputation to Region June 12, 2013 by Karen Rae for MVCRA

Good morning everyone, my name is Karen Rea. I am a resident of Markham Village and the president of Markham Village City Ratepayers.

I am here today to speak about the renaming Highway # 7.
I asked the Mayor of Markham on the weekend why it was even being discussed. He told me as the road was no longer a Highway, it needed to be renamed.

The definition of a Highway is: a main road, one between towns or cities, which is what Hwy # 7 is.

In the ad in the local paper it states that the name change will reinforce the new vision for the corridor of being an urban main street within York Region.

The definition of a Main street:  is not only the major road running through a town but the site of all street life, a place where townspeople hang out and watch the annual parades go by.
No one is going to hang out on Hwy # 7. It is a minimum of 4 lanes, and in parts 6 lanes wide, we will also have a bus running down the middle of it. This by definition is a Hwy.

Hwy # 7, was first designated in 1920 and was once a provincially maintained highway in the Canadian province of Ontario. Highway 7 measured 431 miles in length, stretching from Highway 40 east of Sarnia in Southwestern Ontario to Highway 17 west of Ottawa in Eastern Ontario. However, due in part to the construction of Highways 402 and 407, the province downloaded some sections of Hwy 7 to the regional jurisdiction.  Highway 7 is a major arterial highway which traverses the entire southern half of Ontario. The highway is one of Ontario's most important routes, particularly through Eastern Ontario where Highway 7 serves as the only major through route north of Highway 401. Motorists seeking a more scenic alternate route between Toronto and Ottawa can use Highway 7 instead of Highway 401 and Highway 416. It is one of Ontario's longest highways. 

I have found searches on the internet as far back as 2006, when York region tried to rename Hwy # 7 as Avenue seven… your logic back then was that avenue sounds more like a destination.

In 2010 you held public meetings in Richmond Hill, Markham and Vaughan 63 % of people did not want the name changed… so why 3 years later are we now looking at not only changing the name again but to something completely different to what was discussed at the meetings, now it’s International Drive? 

Hwy # 7 is part of our history, part of our culture, you can pull pictures from the internet on what the road first looked like and how it has grown over the years.

We all want our history to remain. The richness that characterizes the communities is the stories that people can tell, about what used to be, the heritage, and our values, the buildings and the memoires of the people that made our villages and roads what they are today. That is our culture and the rich values that we all cherish whether we were born here or not. That’s what makes Canada what it is today.  I moved here in 1978, kicking and screaming I may add, but because my parents thought we would have a higher standard of living here and there would be more opportunity here for us when we grew up. It’s probably the same reason why everyone moves here.

I would like to be able to tell future generations my stories of Canada and the history that I know and that we fought to keep it from being lost. I have grown up with Hwy # 7, and I would like it to stay as Hwy7. Just like Markham will always be a town to me, not a city.

I wonder how many hours have been wasted over the past 6-7 years debating on a name change. Are you going to pay to upgrade my GPS, the cost of all the road maps, signage and business stationary.  What is even more silly, its only being changed from Donald Cousins Parkway. The left side of our bypass is one name and the other side is another name.

 Reading through all the information on the internet I shake my head at all the wasted time and money spent on this, and the future cost of wasting more money. There is no need to change any portion of this road.

Yesterday Markham council voted unanimously to keep the name the same, Markham Village City RA supports their vote and respectfully request that you do not change the name of hwy # 7 and it is not rebought up again in a couple of years. 

York region has no extra money, I have been told by a developer that we are almost bankrupt, so I believe that your time and our money would be better served trying to figure out how to get us out of the debt that we are in, resolve the congestion of our Town and to plan for our future infrastructure, and not add any extra money to the debt that we are now holding.

Thank you,
Karen Rae, President
Markham Village Ratepayers Association

Renaming Hwy 7 to International Letter June 10, 2013 by Annette Cacorovski

The following letter was e-mailed to York Region and Markham Council:

Firstly, I am appalled that the Region and the Cities would consider a name change to a North American well known Hwy. This holds NO value. As a Region, we have many more value added issues that need to be addressed in a growing population with many traffic and transportation issues and cost effective measures!

Let's use our time and money wisely. Scrap this name change to HWY 7 and move on to transportation and safety issues for our Region and the City of Markham.

Annette Cacorovski

Renaming Hwy 7 to International Deputation to Region June 12, 2013 by Jim Kwan

I strongly oppose the renaming of Highway 7. I think it is not necessary to spend the money on renaming the street. There is basically nothing wrong with it, in fact the existing street name is just fine. Why does York Region need to change it anyway? Why waste taxpayers’ money? People are not complaining about Highway 7, it is not a major issue with the residents or businesses to change the name. 

York Region should spend time better to fix other problems like traffic instead of changing a part of Highway 7 name. It is renaming only the part that runs through York Region, not the entire highway.  

Also the majority of people recognize Highway 7, just like 401 or Yonge Street. Yonge Street also runs through many communities but none of the communities have decided to change the name of Yonge Street even through it starts in Toronto. 

In the last proposed name change back on Feb. 2012, the majority of surveyed residents did not like to change the name of Highway 7 because it may cause confusion for users of the roadway and general concerns about the necessity to rename the road.  The change may cause confusion for emergency units or travellers and the affected residents and businesses will need to change the mailing address information, printed envelopes and letterhead.
The report said that Highway 7 is no longer compatible with the new vision for the corridor and this is one of the main reasons for the name change. Highway 7 is becoming more urbanized but even if Highway 7 is renamed, many people will still refer to it as Highway 7. The name change for a section of the roadway may be more confusing, such as 16th Avenue which has two different names, Carville Road and Rutherford Road, but it is the same stretch of road, Highway 7 is a unique road name because everyone knows where it is and there is no other similarly named roadway. It may not be exciting or reflect the new urbanization of the area, but everyone will know where it is.

York Region is making the rapid transit line on Highway 7 with new stations and shelters. The shelters look great, like a piece of art, but does it do the job to keep the sun, rain, wind or snow away from pedestrians? NO.  

It is very dangerous to walk halfway across Highway 7 to the bus stop. It will be added danger for pedestrians who will jay walk across Highway 7 especially when they just get off the bus or chase after the bus. We can see it at the GO train station on McCowan just north of 7. Many residents do not walk across McCowan at the traffic light; they just walk across McCowan along the track. IT is also the same in downtown Toronto. Many pedestrians just cross in the middle of the road when they get off the streetcar, not just at the light. 

Instead of spending time and resources on renaming Highway 7, maybe we should focus more on the safety and protection of the transit riders and improving the transit system.

Thank you

Renaming Hwy 7 to International Letter June 10, 2013 by Elisabeth Tan

The following letter was e-mailed to York Region and Markham Council:

Since the renaming of Highway 7 has been a somewhat hot topic recently, I feel that many Markham residents would like Highway 7 to remain the same.
Some of the reasons are:
- Costs to business owners and Municipalities.
- Confusion for road users, especially when the new name will not be adopted outside York Region.
- The volume of traffic remains the same (it is a highway volume).
- Speed changes/streetscape along 7 should not warrant a change name.

The money, designated for this name change, could be used for improving safety for cyclists/pedestrians when using this major arterial road. 

FYI, this morning was the official opening of the Sherbourne cycle track: Toronto's first dedicate bike lanes on Sherbourne start of bigger network . It is my hope, we will have an official opening of our first dedicated bike lane on Highway 7 in the near future:)

Best Regards,

Elisabeth Tan

Renaming Hwy 7 to International Deputation to Region June 12, 2013 by Donna Bush

Committee Members,

I am here today to ask why?

Why are we even considering changing the name of “Highway 7”? Highway 7 has been around since 1920 -- 93 years.  This road is approximately 535 km long. It goes from Sarnia in the west to Ottawa in the east.

People know where Highway 7 is. I really don’t care if it is actually a highway (in the true sense of the word) or not. It is a recognizable name. When a person is trying to find a home or business and hears Highway 7, they have a great start to getting there. If they have to stop and ask how to find Highway 7, most locals will be able to quickly direct them. Isn’t that what we want -- people to easily find streets they are looking for? GPS units of all kinds recognize Highway 7. 

When I moved to Markham in March 1981, I remember someone referencing Wellington Street. I had no idea where they were talking about. I came to learn that at some point in time, there was a portion of Highway 7, called Wellington Street. Exactly what portion of the road called Wellington remains elusive to me, even to this day. And, frankly I really don’t care.

Recently, I have taken the opportunity to speak to a number of friends in Markham and ask them what they think of renaming Highway 7. The most common response is WHY?

The next question I ask is what do you think about a name change to “International” Road/Way/Street? The answer is a most infactic “NO!” Canada or Canadian something -- but NO, never International anything.

Residents are asking, “Isn’t there much more critical business for York Region to be concerned with, rather than wasting time and money on an unwanted and unnecessary road name change.

As a long-time Markham resident, I say, please focus on reducing our region’s debt and running necessary region business.

Yesterday, all Markham councillors in attendance at DSC voted to reject renaming Highway 7. Thank you to all of those councillors!

Please stop the make work projects and get back to basics.

Thank you,
Donna Bush 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Parkland Dedication Deputation by Donna Bush for MVCRA to DSC June 11, 2013

Parkland Dedication

Mayor and Councillors,

Once again, I am saddened that Markham is still considering a
reduction in Parkland Dedication because there are so many benefits that greenspace provides to all residents. While we have previously discussed this topic, today I am here to remind council that there are huge benefits to preserving Parkland Dedication -- not reducing it.

Urban parks and open spaces provide many important benefits
including improving overall health, increasing social and spiritual well-being, and enhancing environmental quality.

Some benefits that I have found include:
1. Protection of natural environment
2. Residentsʼ identity and pride
3. Community visual appeal and function
4. Development of strong communities
5. Individual growth and development
6. Prevention of social problems
7. Reduction of health problems and costs
8. Integration of disabled, disadvantaged and socially alienate

There are also many economic benefits listed in a publication called, “Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space: How Land Conservation Helps Communities Grow Smart and Protect the Bottom Line”. It states, “Communities around the country are learning that open space conservation is not an expense but an investment that produces important economic benefits.” 

1. Attracting Investment: Parks and open space create a high
quality of life that attracts tax-paying businesses and residents to communities;
2. Preventing Flood Damage: Floodplain protection offers a
cost-effective alternative to expensive flood-control measures;
3. Safeguarding the Environment: Open space conservation
is often the cheapest way to safeguard drinking water, clean the air, and achieve other environmental goals.

The Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural Sciences Deakin University Burwood, Melbourne states:
“...research indicates ... humans may be dependent on nature for psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs that are difficult to satisfy by other means. Findings so far demonstrate that access to nature plays a vital role in human health, well-being, and development that has not been fully recognized.”

In terms of health, parks and other natural environments have been viewed almost exclusively as venues for leisure and sport. Yet recent research shows that ʻgreen natureʼ, such as parks and viewing nature, can reduce crime, foster psychological well-being, reduce stress, boost immunity, enhance productivity, promote healing, and improving psychological state, particularly of people in confined circumstances such as hospitals.

Studies clearly demonstrate that being in a natural environment affects people positively, particularly in terms of Cardiovascular and Mental Health.. In fact, the positive effects on human health, particularly in urban environments, cannot be over-stated. As a result, urban planning should ensure that the communities have adequate access to nature.

Nature is important to people.

Exposure to Nature and Greenery Makes People Healthier.

A growing body of research shows that mere contact with the natural world improves physical and psychological health. One important study reviewed the recovery of surgical patients in a Pennsylvania hospital. The rooms of some patients offered views of trees, while others faced a brown brick wall. A review of ten years of medical records showed that patients with tree views had shorter hospitalizations, less need for pain killers, and fewer negative comments in the nursesʼ notes, compared with patients with brickwall views.

“...research on recreational activities has shown that savanna-like settings are associated with self-reported feelings of ʻpeacefulness,ʼ ʻtranquility,ʼ or ʻrelaxationʼ...“Viewing such settings leads to decreased fear and anger ... [and] is associated with enhanced mentalalertness, attention, and cognitive performance...”

CBC News published a study, Parks help narrow health gap between rich and poor dated November 7, 2008

An excerpt states, “The difference in the rate of deaths between the richest and poorest was roughly halved for those living with the most greenery around them, compared with those with the fewest green spaces, the researchers found.

Reseachers went on to say, "The size of the difference in the health gap is surprising and represented a much bigger effect than I had been expecting..."

ʻSo the key message is green spaces are another tool for
governments to combat this health gap between rich and poor.ʼ
Green spaces may encourage people to be more physically active, and previous studies have suggested that parks and open space help people reduce blood pressure and stress levels, and perhaps even heal more quickly after surgery.

In a commentary accompanying the study, Terry Hartig of the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University in Sweden agreed: "This study offers valuable evidence that green space does more than pretty up the neighbourhood. It appears to have real effectson health inequality, of a kind that politicians and health authorities
should take seriously."

A very interesting fact is that “Park and recreational service use continues throughout the life cycle. Recreational participation declines with age, but park use does not. In fact, people between the ages of 65 and 74 use local parks more frequently than any other age group from those 15 and older.”

For small children, playing is learning. Play has proven to be a critical element in a childʼs future success. Play helps kids develop muscle strength and coordination, language, cognitive thinking, and reasoning abilities.

For children with Attention deficit disorder (ADD), this condition negatively impacts academic performance, peer relationships, and family harmony. Plus, these children are at greater risk than their peers for low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Current treatments of medication and behavioral therapy have serious side effects -- but parks provide treatment therapy without negative consequences. Benefits to ADD children include better concentration on schoolwork and similar tasks, and a reduction in symptoms.

Research suggests that humans prefer nature in their landscapes because it is a key ingredient of human habitat, it is essential to our psychological and social health, social behaviour, cognitive functioning, and work performance.

In fact, residents of neighbourhoods with greenery in common spaces are more likely to enjoy stronger social ties than those who live surrounded by barren concrete.

And, what about our air quality?

Yesterday, Councillor Burke mentioned the growing problem with our deteriorating air quality and global warming.
Parks and greenways can mitigate air pollution and increased
temperatures. Mature tree canopies can reduce air temperature five toten degrees and trees filter pollutants out of the air. 

According to American Forests, trees in Atlanta remove 19 million pounds of pollutants annually, a service worth $47 million.

In presenting this information to you today, it is my hope that this council will realize that a reduction in parkland dedication would be a very negative and short-sighted move. Residents are counting on all of you to look after our environment, so that we can all enjoy a long and healthy life. 

Once council gives up our greenspace, it is gone forever. 

Before voting on this important health and quality of life
issue, ask yourself if you want your legacy to be that you did your part to help increase the health of Markham residents. If you do, then show your community by voting against decreasing Parkland Dedication.

Again, I respectfully ask each and every one of you, to vote to
preserve greenspace and to vote against a reduction in Parkland Dedication.

Thank you, Donna Bush -- Markham Village City RA

Parkland Dedication Deputation by Karen Rea to DSC June 11, 2013

Parkland Dedication

Here we are back again, fighting the same issue.

The staff report says, approach should be simplified, should be fewer categories for reductions, and incentives for higher development. The incentive for higher development, is that they sell more units and charge a floor premium. We don’t need to give up parkland that we should be entitled to!

Per your report, most of the development in Markham is below 3.0 FSI, So why are we even having this conversation, there is no need to discuss a reduction, as it would never be used. Or is it that once it is adopted, the flood gates will open and we will see much more higher density and less and less park land.

Reading through both reports and on page 23 on the recommendation report states: BILD indicates that the majority of Markham higher density development sits within 3.5 to 5.0 FSI range (something a little different than what the Towns report states.. who are we supposed to believe??) and that the proposed graduated scale provides real relief only at density rates higher than this. They would like to see the lowering of the threshold in order to allow more developments to take advantage of the reduction incentive. 

The incentive that was originally to start at 2.5 FSI has been raised to 3.0 FSI, which you may say great- we have a compromise, However the incentive rises to 30% from 25 %...  

Whose interest are we looking after the developers or the residents?

Development charges are outrageous in York Region, and we seem to keep asking the developers to contribute here and donate here, maybe we need to stop asking for extra money for anything and everything. Maybe then they will stop asking us to give them a break with the parkland. The extra monies that they spend have to come from somewhere.. nothing is free! However, parkland should not be an option and should not be up for discussion.  This is vital to the well-being of every resident, it’s important for our real estate values and the quality of all our lives.

There have been many studies comparing the health of people related to the green space that surrounds them.

Many of us know intuitively that green space, parks, forests and trees make us feel better. They refresh and recharge our batteries, bringing peace and tranquility. It improves our well-being by reducing stress and fatigue and improving mental health and longevity. The closer the green space is to our homes, the more benefit we derive from it. In fact, there’s a growing body of research on green spaces and their positive impacts on the health and wellness of children and communities.

The percentage of green space inside a one kilometre and a three kilometre radius had a significant relation to perceived general health. The overall relation is somewhat stronger for lower socioeconomic groups. Elderly, youth, and secondary educated people in large cities seem to benefit more from presence of green areas in their living environment than other groups in large cities. Yet we would like to discard these people from having adequate green space.

Exemptions for retirement homes and affordable housing and non-profit is not acceptable. Everyone needs green space and everyone has the right to have some fresh air, a place to relax, read a book, walk a dog or just spend some quality “me time” in an open air park, square, or a park bench, regardless of age.

The developers are going to build, regardless of whether you change the parkland dedication. As in a real estate transaction, you ask for everything when you send over an offer and in the end you may get nothing and you pay the full asking price.

The builders are not going to lose money if they do not get an “incentive” They all charge floor premiums of an average of $1000.00 per floor, which more than covers what they have to pay for the parkland. A unit on the 20th floor is essentially $18000 more than the identical unit on the 2nd floor.  Buyers don’t get a discount or a break to purchase on a higher floor. They pay more… yet the developers want to pay less?? Where is the fairness in this equation?

Parkland is a high quality public realm that has a tremendous value for all. 

As citizens, residents, taxpayers of Markham, we urge city staff and the City Council to not lower the required amount of parkland dedication required by builders. We should be actively conserving, protecting, restoring, enhancing, and expanding natural areas and green space for public enjoyment, community health, and ecosystem resiliency.”

Monday, June 10, 2013

Stormwater Funding -- from Grandview Area RA to General Committee June 10, 2013

Good morning Councillors Burke, Shore,  and other members of Council:

I too was made aware of this issue late yesterday and would like to thank
Toinette Bezant for submitting her comments so expeditiously.

GARA was also taken by surprised by the recommendation to remove the Gas Tax
from storm water infrastructure funding.

We were very encouraged, earlier this year, by Council's apparent
understanding of the importance of this issue when it passed the motion for
storm water infrastructure to be funded on a city-wide basis.

Now, this report that recommends the exclusion of one of the most important
ways to fund that work seems inconsistent and inconceivable.  We fail to
understand the rationale for this recommendation, especially since the Gas
Tax was specifically meant to be used for municipal infrastructure projects
and other cities are doing just that.

What is the logic of the majority of Council (a large majority) agreeing to
fund storm water infrastructure on a city wide basis and then voting to
remove a major source of funding to permit that to happen?  June is too late
for an April Fool's joke.

I am sure that Markham can come up with many ways of using the Gas Tax, but
I doubt that they are more important than keeping raw sewage out of our
basements and our waterways,  keeping our roads, bridges, and other public
assets from flooding, or keeping our residents safe in their homes and

Thank you for considering our views.

Marilyn Ginsburg,
Grandview Area Residents Assoc.

Stormwater Funding -- from Bayview Glen RA to General Committee June 10, 2013

June 10, 2013.

Dear Councillor Burke and Councillor Shore,

Re: General Committee: Stormwater Rate Study, Final Report Funding Option (5.0),

On behalf of the Bayview Glen Residents Association, I wish to raise a concern with the Stormwater Funding report to be presented to General Committee on Monday, June 10th. 

The Bayview Glen Residents Association supports the recommendations of the report, however, cannot support item number five (5), which recommends that the Canada Gas Tax Fund be removed from consideration as an a potential funding source to offset stormwater funding costs.

The purpose and intent of the Canada Gas Tax Fund is meant to assist municipalities in meeting the challenge of a growing infrastructure funding gap.

In 2008, a joint municipal and provincial study identified that within a ten year period, Ontario municipalities will experience a $60 billion infrastructure investment funding gap (Source: The Province-Municipal Fiscal Service Review, PMFSDR, 2008).  

Many Ontario municipalities have utilized the federal Gas Tax Fund to cover the cost of stormwater infrastructure projects otherwise not possible through current funding methods.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), in a 2011 Gas Tax Expenditure Report, identified 42 federally funded  municipal wastewater projects (of which stormwater is included); of the 42 Gas Tax funded wastewater projects, over half of the projects, 27 projects in all, were stormwater infrastructure projects. 

Any consideration by Council to endorse the recommendation to remove Gas Tax Funding from inclusion as part of the long term stormwater funding strategy would not be consistent with the manner in which Ontario municipalities have utilized the federal Gas Tax Fund nor do we believe is consistent with the overall intent and purpose of the federal Fund.

Prior to any decision as to allocation of the federal Gas Tax Fund beyond 2014 , a full review of the City’s priorities and justification of the manner in which the federal Gas Tax fund will be allocated would be warranted.

Thank you,

Toinette Bezant, on behalf of the Bayview Glen Residents Association

cc: Thornhill Stormwater Liaison Committee
Marilyn Ginsburg,
Evelin Ellison
Eileen Liasi