A farewell column to Thornhill
Valerie Burke Thornhill Ward 1 Councillor
Think globally, act locally and plan for the wellbeing of our community.”
It has been my privilege and pleasure to work with you as your local Thornhill councillor for the last 12 years. We have accomplished many projects to make our community more sustainable, beautiful and livable, while also protecting the animals that roam around us.
In August 2005, Thornhill was hit by a severe rainstorm during which storm water runoff exceeded the capacity of drainage systems, causing extensive flooding of private property and roadways. This was a serious wake-up call about the challenges with extreme weather resulting from climate change as well as inadequate storm water infrastructure. Residents and I advocated for a citywide storm water fee to help Thornhill residents save thousands of dollars and fund this $234 million multiyear project. Many phases of this project have been completed starting with the most floodvulnerable neighbourhoods.
In 2014, we welcomed 15 cats to the new Markham Cat Adoption and Education Centre, a first of its kind in Canada. Also in 2014, Markham’s bird-friendly guidelines were implemented to help prevent migratory and resident birds from death/injury due to collisions with glass.
In 2016, Thornhill became the first ward in Markham to establish a “butterfly way” in conjunction with the David Suzuki Foundation. Several canoes with flowers were planted by the community and school children to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday. The efforts of Pomona Mills Park Conservationists and residents have transformed Thornhill Meadow into a significant pollinator meadow with native wildflowers and milkweed for the monarch butterflies.
For many years we have been advocating for the Yonge subway extension process. Many studies and public consultations have been completed over the years, and the process needs to continue. Working with councillors Alan Shefman (Vaughan) and Godwin Chan (Richmond Hill) and our collective municipalities, the project is now in the preliminary planning, design and engineering phase. The previous provincial government contributed significant funding and the Yonge subway extension is a top priority for York Region.
In October, a new Ward 1 councillor will be elected, and it is my hope that improvements to Thornhill will continue to be supported with the vision to think globally, act locally and plan for the well-being of our community into the future, beyond the next four political years.
Outgoing Ward 1 councillor Valerie Burke