2 community rallies return to Richmond Hill demonstrating against council members seeking re-election
Oct. 20, 2022
A week after boisterous demonstrations in Richmond Hill prompted a call to police, two groups of residents with opposing political views took to the streets again on Oct. 15.
The two rallies took place at the intersection of Yonge Street and 16th Avenue on Saturday afternoon, three days before online voting was set to begin on Oct. 18 for the Richmond Hill municipal election.
All incumbent council members in the city are currently seeking re-election and the two groups do not see eye to eye on who should be voted out of their council seats in this election.
One of them was held by citizens group A Better Richmond Hill (ABRH) who demonstrated against three incumbent council members: regional councillor Carmine Perrelli, Ward 1 councillor Greg Beros and Ward 2 councillor Tom Muench.
The ABRH group, a registered third-party advertiser for this election, has been widely publicizing its two scheduled rallies at two different intersections in Richmond Hill and notified the York Regional Police of the events, the Liberal learned.
The other rally was organized in the name of local Richmond Hill farmers which was targeted at mayor David West, regional councillor Joe DiPaola, Ward 6 councillor Godwin Chan, Ward 5 councillor Karen Cilevitz and Ward 4 councillor Raika Sheppard regarding their positions on a motion about stormwater fees.
The two groups held the demonstrations in a similar fashion on Oct. 8 at the intersection of Yonge Street and North Lake Road, to which police responded to ensure pedestrian and vehicle safety in the area.
The second rallies held by both -- also at the same time and at the same intersection like last time -- appeared to be less disruptive. Three police vehicles were seen in standby near the rallies, according to photos submitted by residents.
Residents said they spotted councillors Perrelli and Muench briefly during the rallies.
While tension remained high, the opposing sides were separated by the six-lane street for the most part of the demonstrations.
The ABRH-group rally held up signs while playing cheerful music through a loudspeaker. Some of them chanted "hey hey, ho ho, Perrelli, Beros and Muench must go."
Members of the rally for the farmers were seen holding signs against incumbent mayor West as hay-wagons rolled along Yonge Street carrying large signs about stormwater fee increase.
Perrelli and West are political rivals who are currently locked in a four-way mayoral race in the 2022 municipal election.
The Liberal previously reported that a local farmer, Paul Doner, received a stormwater bill from the City of Richmond Hill which increased a hundredfold as a result of a new rate structure introduced this April.
The new structure -- unanimously approved by council last December -- applies to all properties in Richmond Hill. Agricultural lands are charged $140 per acre, and golf courses are charged $185 per acre. Commercial/industrial and multi-residential properties are charged about $915 per acre.
At the Sept. 14 council meeting, the last one before election, councillor Tom Muench proposed a motion to exempt any property without city water or sewers from the upgraded stormwater charge.
Mayor West and a majority of the council voted to refer it back to staff, citing the need to look at the issue carefully due to “significant” implications.
The rally in the name of the farmers was targeted at all the council members who did not support Muench's motion.
Meanwhile, the rally held by ABRH sought to oust the members whose behaviours on council they deemed "problematic."