Traffic report drawing community criticism in Richmond Hill

Over 700 residents signed a petition against new street network at Bernard and Yonge


Published:

Ward 2 councillor Tom Muench in front of proposed key development area

A motion to go forward with the Yonge Street and Bernard Key Development Area (Yonge/Bernard KDA) was passed by Richmond Hill Town Council on July 10, by a 6–2 vote. A traffic report by the town’s hired consultant, Urban Planning Inc., also maps seven new street networks to be constructed for the KDA, many of which will go through residential neighbourhoods. 

The primary purpose of the new street networks is to create more access to main roads and divert traffic from congested areas. According to Ward 2 councillor Tom Muench, the traffic on Yonge Street and Bernard Avenue is already so congested that it can take some residents anywhere between 10 and 25 minutes to leave their subdivision. He referred to Yorkland Street, a street he said is used by approximately 12,000 homeowners, as an example of poor planning.

“The new road network … slices the Loblaws plaza and transfers traffic from Yonge Street, and west of Yonge, to Yorkland,” said Muench. “By our own transportation report, Yorkland is nearing capacity, and now the consultant is recommending this road network.” 

Deputy Mayor Vito Spatafora, chair of York Region Transportation Services, said that Yorkland is just one of many solutions council has planned. 

“We’re looking at the broader scope of transit and transportation,” said Spatafora. “One of the things we are pushing for is a bridge over Elgin Mills and the CN tracks. That will help. By diffusing it to Yorkland and diffusing it to other streets, you’re trying to reduce the concentration on a single road.”

Hedy Waters, 71, has lived on Elmpark Court since 1989. Her house faces Yorkland. She said watching vehicles come through Yorkland to turn on Elgin Mills [Road East] is already “quite chaotic.” 

“Tom Muench was around talking about all the development on the other side of Yonge Street and how they want to divert all the traffic to this side of Yonge Street, which makes no sense to me at all,” said Waters. “We already have too much traffic.” 

Over 700 residents have written letters and signed petitions against the proposal, which is also being challenged by developers, according to Meunch. The Yonge/Bernard KDI goes to the Ontario Municipal Board on Aug. 14*. If approved, it will be drafted into a secondary plan with opportunities for public input.   

*(Since publication, the OMB hearing for the Yonge/Bernard KDI has been postponed to Tuesday, October 10.)

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