The town needs to review its current transportation strategy to make sure that it has the necessary transit components in place to deal with this growth. Whitchurch-Stouffville is served by two transit providers, Metrolinx (Go Transit) and York Region Transit (YRT). Currently the YRT services the town via two routes: Route 9, which runs north & south on the 9th line, is the main connector to the City of Markham and Route 15 (see map) which is new this year and runs east-west along Stouffville Road, supplying connectivity to Young Street and Toronto.
There needs to be four immediate improvements. If elected, I would like to pursue YRT service levels as it relates to the Town and Ward 6. Firstly, Route 9 does not currently run on weekends. This has to change moving forward as residents need to have weekend service. A town of 40,000 plus must have connectivity seven days a week to a City of 300,000 (Markham) located 4 kilometers away. There needs to be YRT service down York Durham line and west along Hoover Park. This would bring connectivity to Loretta and Greendale neighbourhoods.
And finally transit shelters need to be built at key transit stops for the protection of transit users against the weather. I will lobby with the Mayor and council to push for these improvements with the Region. Lincolnville station is a result will be going through major renovations within the next term of council. The construction of this new station will allow for future expansion of the GO train service for the Town and Ward 6 residents. Currently Whitchurch-Stouffville has 10 trains servicing the morning commute and 8 servicing the evening commute to and from Toronto. The GO bus service is quite extensive both southbound and northbound.
It is imperative to continue to work with the Province and Metrolinx to make sure that service levels are upgraded to accommodate the expanding population of the Town and Ward 6 residents. In the next term of council, I would like to see the formation of a Transit Committee made up of Town transit users that would meet quarterly with the Mayor and Council to review current service levels for both GO and YRT. I would also set forth a motion with Council to approve the implementation of an adequate crosswalk in front of the Main Street GO station for the safety and convenience of the transit users.
The town of Whitchurch-Stouffville continues to grow in population and new homes. In 2003 Whitchurch-Stouffville had a population of 21,000. Today the towns population is 45,000. The total build out will end around 2025 and there will be a projected town population of 60,000. Ward 6 is near completion of new development. The next phase will consist of new development on farm fields referred to as “Green Field” type of development and “In-fill” development on older properties. Both require a great deal of planning and communication.
Sobara Group will be building 350 homes on the old L&M farm property on the 10th line and Fieldgate will be developing 700 homes across the street on the McKeen farm. There are several “In-fill” developments in the east end of Ward 6 that will make up 120 homes. In total there are another 1,200 homes to be built in Ward 6 within the next term of council. Town and ward services will be expanded during this time. The cost for these services will be paid by the developers. The total DC’s (Development Dollar Contributions) to be made by development will be over $14 million.
With my past experience in working with town staff and developers the remaining build out in Ward 6 should be done with minimal disruptions. The upside to all of this development there will be new Splash pads, tennis courts, basketball courts. And for the future “cricket pitches”.
It is said “that the only constant in life is change”. This is what Whitchurch-Stouffville has been going through over the past 14 years. The town is no longer a small community; it has become a global community. The benefits that this brings are many. There has been an infusion into world sports with the development of soccer, cricket and rugby.
The arts world has a greater presence both in the visual and preforming arts. This has been aided with the building of 19 on The Park and the town council continued support in grant funding to the Latcham Gallery and Motus-O. Cultural diversity brings forth both creativity and athleticism to both young and old. I see this change as an exciting process that will enhance all facets of our community. I also see the new global community as an opportunity to build a greater town of Whitchurch-Stouffville.
To properly build a town you need physical infrastructure such as roads, sewers, water, transportation links and schools. We also need communication hubs such as libraries and community centers. The next phase in this development a Cultural Centre that will support the events of the different cultures under one location. In my term on council I have supported a number of cultural events and initiatives for both ward 6 and the greater community. I will continue to do so.
As H.G. Wells has observed; “Our true nationality is mankind” .
In my term in office fiscal responsibility has been a number 1 priority for me. From 2008 to 2015 the town doubled in population. With growth there comes a great deal of pressure to ensure that taxes are maintained at a acceptable level and that the town debt load is managed in a way that future generations are not burden with it. In January 2015 I worked with council and passed a resolution that placed a debt ceiling on all debentures that the town will incur. It is important to be fiscally responsible when mapping out the expansion of capital projects. The Municipal Act states that a municipality cannot go past 25% of its Annual Repayment Limit (ARL).
A municipality has to be below 25% when its own source revenue (assessment dollars) is compared to its annual debt. At the 2015 Budget meeting myself and fellow councillors passed a 12% (ARL). Currently the towns ARL is below 8%. Over the past 4 years the average tax increase has been 2.5%. Each year council has set aside between 1-1.5% of the tax increase to be put back into reserves. This represents approximately $430K going into the reserve funds annually. Since 2014 to 2017 the towns annual surplus has grown over 65%. In 2014 the towns surplus was $12,435 in 2017 the surplus was $21,121, The towns total reserve and reserve funds as of December 31st, 2017 were at $40,043,521.
Overall during my term in office council has maintained one of the lowest tax rates in York Region while at the same time delivered yearly increases in annual surplus and has established a (ARL) below 8%. I will continue to work hard in the next term of council to make sure these trends are maintained.
With new development there comes the addition of parks. All parks are covered under Development Charges and there is no additional cost to tax payers. In my term of council, I have worked with town staff and developers to build two new parkettes and two community parks. The total new capital investment in park installation to residents in Ward 6 is over $3.5 million.
Ward 6 is also the home to the towns memorial park a true gem of the downtown. Memorial Park encompasses 6.7 hectares and is located south of main street between Thicketwood and Market then south of Hoover Park. In my term of council, I have worked with town staff to upgrade facilities and added new features within the park. The total investment to Memorial park is over $700K.
Memorial park will undergo further master plan studies within the next four years. It will be important to have communication and collaboration with town and ward residents to determine what additions should be included in the park. I will be there to assist in this process.
In my term of council, we have added several new elements into the park. The baseball diamond received new covered bleachers. New grand stand was built in southeast section of park. Picnic area received refurbishing. Further improvements were the addition of new playground equipment for the three play areas in the park. The two bridges that traverse the Stouffville Creek were also re-built for added safety.
The Parkettes at Fairlee Circle and Greenforest Grove & Salix Ave were added within my past term of council. They are excellent examples of neighbourhood parks. The approximate cost for these parks was over $1.1 million dollars and were covered under Development charges with zero cost to tax payers. There will be further parkettes built with the completion of the two major developments south of Mantel on the 10th line within the next term.
Sunnyridge is an excellent example of a community Park. Located in the south east quadrant of ward 6 between Sunnyridge and Yakefarm. It covers over 4 hectors of green space. It contains play equipment, tennis court, basketball court that converts to ice pad in winter, and splash pad. It also has Stouffville first Community Gardens. Completed in 2015 Sunnyridge Community Gardens is the first of its kind for Stouffville. Community Gardens bring the rural into the urban environment. The Sunnyridge Community garden has been an excellent test project for this type of outdoor recreation. In the next term I would like to see this type of urban cultivation expanded into other areas of Ward 6 possibly Byers Pond or the new Gar Lehman Community Park.
As Stouffville continues to evolve with new cultures it is important to embrace the new traditions and sports. I support the development and installation of a Cricket Pitch located at the Bethesda Sports Field.
I have worked extremely hard in my term of office to assist residents with traffic concerns. It was in my term that council back in 2012 approved the lease that saw the YRP (York Regional Police) sub-station to be located in the town offices.
I have collaborated with the YRP and Ward 6 residents to set up neighbourhood watch meetings to discuss school zone safety to students. I have worked with council and YRP to set up “Community Saftey Zones around all Ward 6 schools. Wendat PS, Barbara Reid PS, Summitview PS and St. Brendan CS.
Safety Zones are highly monitored areas by the YRP. They are marked by signage and all traffic violations committed in the zones are double. They are a positive deterrent for bad driving habits.
In my term of office, I have assisted local residents with 6 stop sign installations. (O’Brien & Burkholder, Sunny Ridge & Hoover installed 4 way STOP, Yakefarm & Raxil installed 4 way STOP, Duffin & Byers Pond, Pepper Tree & Duffin, Richard Underhill. I have also assisted with the implementation of Crossing Guards at Reevesway & Hoover Park, Ken Lushway & Hoover Park, Gladys Clarkson & Hoover Park and Yakefarm & Hoover Park.
A new development in school zones with crossing guards is to install OVER SIZED STOP SIGNS. They are very effective. In my term as councillor I have implemented this practice at the intersections of Hoover Park & Ken Lushway and Yakefarm and Hoover.
I will continue to make traffic concerns a number one priority.
At the August 22nd Stouffville town council meeting the following report on the Council Agenda Report No. PW-046-17 “ Award of Design and Tendering Services for Whistle Cessation Improvements at Hoover Park Drive and Reeves Way Boulevard” The motion to accept and move forward was put forth by councillor Rob Hargrave. It was defeated and was NOT APPROVED by council despite the recommendation by Town Staff to proceed with this work. The money to do this was already allotted in this years 2017 town budget.
6 months later Rob Hargrave table the same motion to have whistle cessation at Reeves Way and Hoover Park. That motion was also defeated by council.
Rob Hargrave is committed to brining whistle cessation to all the urban rail crossings in the town of Whitchurch -Stouffville.