In May 2020 the City of Richmond Hill revised the Yonge-Bernard Key Development Area Plan. Disregarding years of resident input, the approved plan has no building height restrictions. The approved plan includes 40 storey towers but could go much higher. Our neighbourhood will have population densities larger than parts of Downtown Toronto but without the mass transit.
Residents have been fighting for years to have responsible development at Yonge and Bernard and now we must take our arguments to the Ontario Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) which will make a final decision about the massive development. Essentially, we are facing off against Richmond Hill Council which will has endless resources and all expenses paid by taxpayers. Residents, however, must raise money to participate.
We need your donation to hire professional planners and transportation engineers to make our case. We can’t win this on our own.
We are fighting for a better Richmond Hill. Please contribute whatever you can. The precedents being set by this Council at the Yonge-Bernard KDA will shape neighbourhoods throughout Richmond Hill going forward.
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Yonge-Bernard Residents Association (YRA) wishes to know why the City of Richmond Hill is planning to make the Yonge-Bernard KDA one of the highest urban density areas in Canada, when it is 8 kilometres from the closest planned subway stop which may be built by 2031?
Meanwhile, the City's planned density will exceed that of a major transportation hub in the heart of Toronto at Yonge and Eglinton. After years of our own research and numerous submissions to the City, we believe there is enough evidence to establish that the Yonge-Bernard KDA Revision Plan rests on a weak foundation. It is based on flawed assumptions. It also contains obvious data errors and ignores key considerations. The Revision Plan also contradicts many of the Provincial and Regional guidelines. As such, the Revision Plan has contradictory statements and plans that will not allow for the objectives of good planning practices to be met. First, let’s review the basic information of this KDA revision, see Table 1
This KDA Revision Plan has many designs that are inconsistent with common sense.
1. Is the SKY the limit? - We understand that, as long as 45-degree angular plane limits are maintained, developers can build to any height as long it is within permitted densities. Would this not allow 41 storey buildings?  Does it even make sense to have 40 storey heights fronting Yonge Street and the 20 storey heights on side streets in this area?
2. Are these the HIGHEST planned density in Canada? - The planed population and employment target for the KDA is now 11,300 residents and 3,000 jobs. Staff has increased the KDA size to 26.78 hectares (ha), with 21.5 ha of developable land. This presents an eventual density of 664 residents and jobs per developable hectare. This is even higher than the proposed density for the Yonge/Eglinton KDA area, which is 600 r&j/ha  at its core area. The Yonge/Eglinton KDA has world-class infrastructure. The Yonge-Bernard KDA has the highest proposed new urban density in Canada that we can find. How does this make sense for this area?!
3. How realistic is the “average” condo size used for planning calculations? – The revised plans densities are based on AVERAGE condo sizes of 110 square meter (1184 ft2) per unit to design the 5,080 highrise units. However, modern average condo/apartment sizes are less than 800ft2    . This would allow developers to build 50% more units and still be in compliance with the KDA Plan. This results in a potential density of 880 R&J/Ha for the KDA – a new record. Using this average condo size is obviously a major mistake. However, acknowledging it would require FSI to be revised to a figure of 2.99. Meanwhile, FSI for the 2017 original KDA plan was 3.04. Therefore, under no circumstances can the average unit size calculated by Staff be used for calculating allowable density or the stated density intentions of the Plan will collapse. Please remember that Dogliola’s current development application, at southwest corner of Yonge/Canyon Hill, is in line with the revision plan for its subject lands and its density has exceeded 1,000 R&J/Ha.)
In addition, it appears to us that staff has not considered that York Region clearly specified on 27 March 2014 that 4% of residents should work from home . Is this not the case?
4. Have corners been cut for developers? - The revision plan increased the KDA boundary to add 8.7% of developable land. Other than adding 0.9 hectare of developable land for the Yonge-MCD site, another 0.85 hectare of developable land has also been added at the Southwest corner of the KDA (perhaps because it occupies environmental land)  . Is all this being done to give developers more density to build, while removing requirements for parking and parks?
5. Are the planned density comparisons not disingenuous? Planning staff claimed that their plans for Yonge-Bernard KDA densities should be compared to today’s Eglinton West Mobility Hub and Mississauga’s City Center Mobility Hub. However, Eglinton West is a Gateway Hub, and the Mississauga City Center is an Anchor Hub. Both are high level mobility hubs in the GTHA. The Yonge-Bernard KDA will never have their transit infrastructure. The Eglinton West Gateway Hub has a subway, LRT, and TTC. Meanwhile, the Mississauga City Center Anchor Hub will have as follows:
Mississauga City Center Anchor Hub
The City Center will have a Density of 126 residents & jobs per hectare. Meanwhile 71%of that planned density will be for jobs , while jobs will make up less than 21% of the density for the Yonge-Bernard KDA. Jobs require far fewer community amenities than families!
Transit Systems :
Ø Go Transit: 450 daily bus trips per weekday, Square One is the 2nd busiest Go terminal next to Union Station!
Ø Mississauga Transitway (BRT): 12 stations and 25 buses per hour at the Center
Ø MiWay: 28 routes / 352 bus stops unique to downtown. It is the 3rd largest municipal transit service in Ontario
Ø Other: Highway 403 is already next to the City Center and an additional LRT line is planned
How realistic is comparing the Yonge-Bernard KDA to these Mobility Hubs without realistically comparing respective transit infrastructure and residents & jobs densities?
6. Will planning changes overwhelm existing social infrastructure? These are the current facts on the ground for the Yonge-Bernard area:
Ø Traffic: From 2012 to 2018 York Region had a 25% traffic accident reduction rate. But the City’s increased by 13% and the local area increased by 37%. Currently, the Yonge-Bernard area traffic accident rate is 12 to 17 times higher than the Richmond Hill average! 
Ø Parkland: Per capita parkland in this area is already very low in the GTA. It is only 9 m2 per capita. Meanwhile, per capita parkland is 28 m2 in Toronto and 16 m2 in Richmond Hill  (the lowest for GTA municipalities) . Would adding just 10,000 residents not further reduce local parkland figures to just 6 m2 per capita for area residents?! Moreover, one of the first acts of the Richmond Hill New Council was to cut the developer's parkland cash-in-lieu fees to 1/3, resulting in a door price reduction of $ 25,000 per unit! Because of this cut, a direct loss of this KDA alone exceeding $ 100 million for the parkland development in Richmond Hill.
Ø School & Hospital: Currently, the nearest high school, Richmond Hill High School (RHHS) has reached 165% of its capacity . And the nearest hospital, Major McKenzie General Hospital is one of the most crowded in Ontario .
Ø And More: Similar infrastructure shortages can be applied to all existing parking, fire protection, policing, and other community resources. For the sake of the brevity, we will not go into details.
Is Council not considering whether to add to these community stressors by removing reasonable height limits and allowing for an ACTUAL density of 880 Residents and Jobs per developable hectare in its developments?! To allow for this, public use land (for roads, parks and other public facilities) is being limited to just 2.9 m2 per resident and job within the KDA . Naturally, the bulk of the added strain on public use functions will spill over to surrounding areas. This would still be the case if development somehow managed to be kept at the 664 r&j/ha density proposed in the plan that Council is now considering. How are the surrounding parks (which are minimal), area roads (which are congested during peak hours), and schools (which are overloaded) going to accommodate the actual or planned density increases?
The new Council started this journey on 16 April 2019, when after the municipal and provincial elections it gave instructions to staff to rubbish the approved plans for the KDA and, rather than defending them, pro-developer councillors instructed them to re-draft KDA plans with a view to maximizing densities and avoiding conflicts with developers. The new Council pulled the threads that have brought us this revision. This Council’s actions will form a legacy that will almost surely impoverish Yonge/Elgin Mills for future generations if let them continue on this path.
In light of points 1 to 6 above, we believe that Yonge-Bernard KDA Revision Plan will create even greater densities than developers had originally asked for under the old KDA plan. It will also certainly not be an improvement over the dysfunctional “paper napkin” proposal temporarily adopted by Council on 16 April 2019!
There is no real urgency excusing not reasonably delaying such monumental planning revisions. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, LPAT has adjured all hearings until after June 30th and as the pandemic unfolds that will likely be further delays. There is no excuse not to fulsomely and honestly address the questions and concerns of our residents before making decisions that will impact future generations in this area.
However, on May 13, 2020, Richmond Hill Council voted on the very unpopular Yonge-Bernard KDA Revision Plan which resulted in a 5:4 vote, rejecting the revision. However, Regional and Local Councillor Perrelli obstructed the acceptance of the result. Council then moved to an in-camera meeting to discuss this KDA revision plan again and secretly debated the issues a second time. Several hours later, after the in-camera discussion, changes were added to the earlier motion and another vote was held resulting in a 5:4 vote in favour. Council not only passed the revised KDA plan, but also accepted changes that removed: proposed public roads, a traffic light, green and open spaces, reduced parking spaces, and further increased densities in the KDA. All without public consultation or discussion. This is undemocratic and clearly takes advantage of the limitations imposed by Covid-19 preventing any public meetings.
Thousands of Richmond Hill residents were shocked and dismayed by this turn of events. The public never stood a chance in fairly participating in this process. The draft revision, consisting of over 500 pages was released just one week before the Council vote. As we are all staying at home during this pandemic, 90% of residents most deeply impacted by this plan were not even made aware of the release of the draft revision.
While residents were still in disbelief, the machinations continued. On the evening of May 14th another in-camera emergency meeting was held by Council. While there was no public notification, behind closed doors, Council again modified their last decision of May 13th. Since there is no public record of who or what Council voted on, residents are left to wonder what comes next for our neighbourhood. We know LPAT will not care that most Richmond Hill residents are oblivious to this plan but would be against it if they knew about it. LPAT is going ahead with a hearing in the first week of July most likely without the aggrieved party, the residents, in attendance. Residents plan to do their part to fight excessive development in our area, but how do we prepare to fight plans that are often changed and voted on away from public view? This is not how our democratic system of checks and balances is supposed to work. Public participation is essential. The conduct of Richmond Hill Council threatens our democratic system.
Richmond Hill Councillors will say they respect the democratic process. They will talk about consultations where they ultimately ignored the public. They will talk about reports released for public input, but not about how it was only days before voting on huge changes to their neighbourhoods. The conduct of Richmond Hill Council threatens our faith in the foundations of our democratic system. We believe anyone interested in this story should reasonably reach a similar conclusion. If some politicians had not steamrolled us into desperation, we wouldn't protest in the midst of pandemic.
Please join us to protect the future of our community and city, we will not give up.
 Draft Revision Memo for the Yonge-Bernard KDA Plan April 02, 2020
 Yonge-Eglinton KDA Secondary Plan, City of Toronto, 2018
 Why the incredible shrinking condo is about to become even more popular, National Post, Garry Marr, June 23, 2017
 Average Apartment Unit size of Active Development Applications in Yonge-Bernard KDA Area, 2018-2020. PLEASE SEE PDF attached
 Toronto Condos Are Shrinking in Size Much Faster Than Vancouver, Better Dwelling, May 7, 2019
 Approved Yonge-16th High-rise Condos Average Apartment Unit Size, Town of Richmond Hill, 2017-02-21 PLEASE SEE PDF attached
 Achieving Density Targets in New Communities in York Region, York Region, 2014
 Draft Revision of Yonge Bernard KDA Secondary Plan, Feb 2020
 Bernard-KDA Transportation-Study, BA Group, June 2017
 Mississauga City Center Mobility Hub Profile, Metrolink, Dec 2015 PLEASE SEE PDF attached
 Mississauga downtown trip planning, City of Mississauga
 York Region, Richmond Hill, and Yonge-Bernard Area Traffic Accident Data, York Region Police, 2012-2018
 Parkland Strategy – Growing Toronto Parkland, City of Toronto, Nov 2017
 Richmond Hill Staff Report SRPRS19022_Attachment 2, Map of 2011 Parkland Per Capita within Each of the Town's Concession Blocks and Town-wide
 Richmond Hill High School (RHHS) Council released data, 2019
 Some of Ontario's biggest hospitals are filled beyond capacity nearly every day, new data reveals, CBC Investigates, Mike Crawley, Jan 23, 2020
 Richmond Hill Staff Report SRPRS19022_Attachment 6, Comparison of Municipal Parkland OP Policies, Parkland Dedication By-laws, and Per Capita Parkland, 2019
1. Continue to mobilize the Public to apply pressure to the Richmond Hill’s Developer-Council. Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the confidentiality that planning staff used to set for the latest revision, to-date majority of local families that will be deeply impacted by this KDA plan didn’t even know the recent development.
2. Raise funds for the LAPT hearing cost. YRA is seeking professional planner(s) and traffic engineer(s) to join the team to continue the “irrational planning” battle at LPAT.
Please use this link to join the Yonge - Bernard Residents Association, we need to work together!
9140 Leslie Street, Suite110, Richmond Hill, ON
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