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Richmond Hill votes not to enter into agreement in principle on High Tech TOC by province’s deadline

'There’s so much uncertainty that has been foisted on us because of this process that is unprecedented and that’s not good'
May 4, 2022
Sheila Wang

Richmond Hill is not entering into an intergovernmental agreement in principle by a deadline requested by Premier Doug Ford’s government for the massive development proposals at the High Tech transit-oriented community.

Council voted at a special council meeting on April 28 to further negotiate with the province a final agreement in principle or AIP for the planned development at the High Tech site at Hwy. 407 and Yonge Street.

The development proposals at the High Tech site are expected to bring 33 mixed-use towers ranging in height from 40 to 80 storeys to the 20.1-hectare area -- or, 19.2 hectares, excluding the city’s heritage woodlot.

“This is so incredibly complex,” Mayor David West said at the special council meeting. “There’s so much uncertainty that has been foisted on us because of this process that is unprecedented and that’s not good.”

The motion means Richmond Hill is not approving the agreement in principle for the development proposals by the April 29 deadline set by the province. It also signals that it is prepared to entered into the AIP at a later date.

The High Tech site is one of the two transit-oriented communities (TOCs) identified by the province in York Region. The other one -- the Bridge site -- is located in Markham just south of the High Tech site.

Both the City of Markham and York Region have passed similar motions indicating they would continue negotiating the AIP for the TOCs instead of approving it as is.

Richmond Hill council’s decision came two weeks after the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing issued two enhanced minister’s zoning orders (EMZO) on April 14 to fast track the two TOC sites in York Region, bypassing the municipal planning process and leaving no room for appeal.

The planned developments at the High Tech site are expected to bring more than 20,000 residential units -- with a population of at least 35,000 -- and more than 9,000 jobs.

A number of residents have written to Richmond Hill council, demanding their representatives to take a stronger position against the province’s development proposals at the High Tech site because the proposed developments double the height and density that had been previously planned for the area.
Markham council adopted a motion to request the housing minister to revoke its EMZO for the Bridge TOC at the April 25 council meeting. It also stated the city does not agree with the AIP provided by the province and will not execute it in its current form.

"We know you, our councillors, have no courage to condemn Doug Ford but can you please just follow up with Markham council to reject this one?” John Li asked Richmond Hill council. Li is the president of the Yonge-Bernard Residents Association and founding member of A Better Richmond Hill.

Regional Coun. Carmine Perrelli said “it doesn't make sense to fight the province on what they deem to be the justification for building the priority transit that we've been advocating for.”

“Be careful what you ask for,” he said. “This is not the time to yell and scream like little children. This is the time to say we're with you, province and stakeholders, and we want to work together.”

Mayor West reiterated the city’s concerns about the Ford government’s plan for the High Tech site. He noted it’s important that the city stays at the table to negotiate with the government in an effort to help align the High Tech developments with the city’s vision.

Ward 6 Coun. Godwin Chan, who put forward the motion, said the city needed a “fair agreement.”

“If the province can provide zoning certainty to developers, why can't the province provide financial certainty to Richmond Hill to ensure we have resources to really provide the support, the infrastructure and everything that our community deserves?” Chan said.