Rich­mond Hill coun­cil votes against city sta­tus

Richmond Hill Post - - Neighbourh­ood News -

The Town of Rich­mond Hill re­mains just that — a town — fol­low­ing a re­cent Rich­mond Hill Town Coun­cil meet­ing at which Coun. Greg Beros moved a mo­tion for the town to adopt city sta­tus. With three in favour and four op­posed, the mo­tion failed. Beros, who first pro­posed this last Jan­uary and saw the de­ci­sion put off, ad­mits that the move would have been purely sym­bolic. But, he said, the la­bel was still mean­ing­ful and more re­flec­tive of the place Rich­mond Hill has be­come.

“We’re ask­ing a sub­way to come to our bor­der,” said Beros. “When you take a look at the way we’re build­ing up High­way 7, the city­like build­ings that are be­ing de­vel­oped on Yonge Street … it’s not a town any­more.”

He also be­lieves that peo­ple in the town think of it as a city. “When peo­ple come in, they say, ‘I spoke to your city staff.’ They say ‘city hall.’ Ev­ery­one calls it a city. But there are some that still don’t want to let go.”

Lo­cal and re­gional coun­cil­lor Brenda Hogg, who voted against the mo­tion, said it’s not an is­sue of want­ing to let go. It’s an is­sue of rel­e­vance. “I don’t think the res­i­dents of Rich­mond Hill are par­tic­u­larly con­cerned with the ques­tion of city sta­tus in gen­eral,” she said. “I put the ques­tion to the pub­lic in one of my news­let­ters.… Those who re­sponded pre­ferred to keep town sta­tus. We have many more and big­ger is­sues.”

Split on the is­sue was Coun. God­win Chan, who voted against the mo­tion be­cause of a lack of for­mal con­sul­ta­tion. “It is para­mount that res­i­dents be con­sulted in a for­mal man­ner,” said Chan. “Based on in­for­mal polling on my web­site and [at] com­mu­nity events this year, re­spon­dents were ba­si­cally split [on the is­sue],” he said.

Mayor Dave Bar­row said that he and many oth­ers are just fine be­ing a town and see no need to change. “I think it’s how you per­ceive your­self as a com­mu­nity, and I think peo­ple per­ceive us as a town. There’s lit­er­ally no ben­e­fit [or] any ad­van­tages from a fed­eral or pro­vin­cial ba­sis what­so­ever.”

In On­tario, there are no perks or sub­si­dies that would re­sult from city sta­tus nor are there re­quire­ments in terms of pop­u­la­tion or size to be­come a city. But Bar­row still be­lieves that Rich­mond Hill’s pop­u­la­tion is not suf­fi­cient enough for city sta­tus com­pared to sur­round­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“When you’re just barely 200,000 and the other cities that are in York Re­gion are 300,000 and 400,000, we’re still rel­a­tively small,” he said.

Although Beros as­serted peo­ple might take a city more se­ri­ously, es­pe­cially on the in­ter­na­tional stage, Bar­row doesn’t see the la­bel as a hin­der­ance to devel­op­ment. “I think there’s a sense that from an eco­nomic devel­op­ment point of view that some peo­ple might be more at­tracted to a place called a city, but it’s never been demon­strated to be an ob­sta­cle.”

He said that the town is still do­ing very well and de­vel­op­ing, es­pe­cially along Yonge Street. But that is ex­actly the rea­son why Beros thinks oth­ers may be in de­nial.

“Peo­ple that will cur­rently lend their neigh­bour sugar, they’ll still con­tinue to do that,” he said. “[But] the town of Rich­mond Hill is gone.”

In a re­cent re­brand­ing of the town, the crest of Rich­mond Hill was re­designed to change “Town of Rich­mond Hill” to “Rich­mond Hill” from the pre­vi­ous logo, which had been de­signed in the 1990s.

The two other coun­cil­lors in favour of adopt­ing city sta­tus were Cas­tro Liu and Nick Papa.

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