What action is Alan taking to deal with traffic problems in Thornhill?
As a member of Vaughan Council, I take responsibility for all traffic concerns... on all residential streets under the jurisdiction of the City of Vaughan in Ward 5.
Unlike residential streets though, all major roads in the area; Yonge, Bathurst, Dufferin and Centre, are totally under the jurisdiction of York Region. That means that all decisions relating to traffic, construction and transit are made by Regional Councillors, not Ward Councillors.
Beverly Glen is a good example of how I approach traffic concerns on the roads within my area of responsibility.
Beverly Glen is the major feeder road for the area north of Centre Street. It begins at Bathurst and ends at Dufferin, inviting vehicles to use it as a cut through street. Especially now, with the construction taking place on Centre Street and more traffic on the major arterial roads, Beverly Glen is increasingly busy.
Over the years I have worked with our staff to implement measures to improve safety and slow down traffic on the street. This has included such significant measures as installing a traffic signal near Wilshire Elementary School, adding stop signs, placing speed bumps and lowering the speed limit. All these actions have helped to calm traffic on the street.
With the recent increase in traffic and in response to requests from residents I held a meeting in late September with City traffic engineers and the York Regional Police. After reviewing the current situation we are implementing further measures to deal with the traffic including increasing police presence on the street to ensure compliance with stop signs and speed limits. Staff are also looking at improving the impact of the current traffic calming measures that are currently in place. Further signage is also being considered.
Taking action to deal with traffic issues is an ongoing task of a Ward Councillor. With no authority to deal with the gridlock on arterial roads, I have done everything within my power to ask the Region to take measures when residents bring their concerns to my attention.
Since the York University subway station opened, York Region Transit (YRT) buses have stopped delivering Thornhill students right into campus, where the buses have always gone before. Instead, they get dropped off a subway station away, forcing them to pay a second fee every day (as much as $1000 per year).
As of September 2, York Region Transit buses are no longer allowed to bring their passengers into the centre of York University campus. This arbitrary and unfair decision by York Region Transit was made without the approval of Vaughan Council, and it is unacceptable.
We cannot accept arbitrary, bureaucratic decisions that have such dramatic financial impact – perhaps as much as $1000 per year – on Vaughan and York Region students struggling to pay for university.
We cannot accept that people from York Region travelling to campus will have their safety at risk as a result of this decision.
We cannot accept that the time to travel to campus will increase significantly.
We cannot accept that students, faculty and employees of York who have a disability are being put in a position of even greater disadvantage.
As Ward 5 Councillor, I have called on the YRT to immediately restore bus service to the centre of campus. I have also asked the TTC and YRT to conduct a review in consultation with impacted passengers of how they can provide the best and most economical service possible to York University. I will continue to advocate on this issue, and will push the Regional Councillors on Vaughan Council to bring this important issue to York Region Council.
There are a variety of possible options for a long-term solution to this issue – maintain the YRT buses into campus, provide a special York University pass to allow a transfer to the subway without cost or break down the two-fare wall completely.
Transit is supposed to be a force in providing ease of movement in the GTA. What we are witnessing at York is the tip of the iceberg where jurisdictional protection for transit agencies seems to be more important than service to its passengers.
I have always been a proponent of extending a detailed network of rapid transit throughout the GTA. Now that we have the very first subway line outside of the Toronto boundary we see the same parochial territorial protectionism. If you are a user of rapid transit, your very last concern, municipal boundaries, is the first concern of transit authorities throughout the GTA – It’s time to move to a truly Greater Toronto Transit Authority where service for its passengers is paramount.
The ability to pay for university and the safety of Vaughan students is at risk – we need action now!
How has Councillor Shefman given citizens a voice in development, and made sure that new development in Thornhill is responsible?
Development planning in Vaughan is a complex process and in the past, members of the community had little input. That is not acceptable and needed to change.
We, the residents of Thornhill - Ward 5, are concerned about the type and quality of development that takes place in our community. One of my fundamental commitments is that residents will have a voice in whatever development is being proposed.
As I considered what could be done I found that residents were having difficulty understanding how to get involved. As your member of Council, your input is very important to me. To encourage community involvement, I wrote a brochure that outlines the step by step planning process in order to make the process more understandable.
Whenever I meet with developers, I insist that they hold a public meeting prior to any submission to the City. It has been my experience that there is a greater opportunity to influence change at this early stage.
One of the most successful examples of this initiative was the proposal to build a 20 plus storey residential building at the Spring Farm Marketplace (corner of Hilda and Clark).
After meeting with the developer during the early stage of planning their development, I had strong reservations. I asked them to hold a public meeting to get community feedback. The community meeting was held, with one of the largest turnouts ever in Thornhill. The message from the community was loud and clear - the proposal was not acceptable to the residents of Ward 5. The developer did not respond.
Over a year later the proponent submitted their plan to City Council. The SpringFarm Ratepayers took a leading role, and organized more than 11 deputations against the plan and Council rejected the proposal.
After the Council meeting, I encouraged ongoing discussions between the SFRA and the developer. Ultimately the plan was withdrawn – a victory for cooperative action and community consultation.
It is important for me, as your Councillor, to ensure that the voices of residents are heard. In the next term, I will continue to insist that every developer hold community meetings at the planning stages, so that residents can have a say in development happening in our community.
What is Councillor Shefman's position on the redevelopment and revitalization of the Promenade Mall?
The Promenade revitalization proposal put forward by the new owners of the mall is mostly a positive for the Thornhill community.
I doubt if anyone has difficulty in recognizing that the renewal and expansion of the retail space at the mall property is very positive. It provides a significant positive economic impact on our City, with jobs (especially for young people) and of course the commercial taxes that we use to lower residential taxes. As well, we can’t forget that many malls of this category are closing and being replaced by swaths of high density buildings – I sure don’t want to see that happen here!
The addition of three well-designed residential condos is surely not excessive on a property of this size – especially so when their placement, adjacent to the mall building, will not impact the single-family homes in the area.
The addition of more jobs in the office component of the fourth proposed new building will also be a positive as well as a new hotel to serve the area.
This proposal is still in its early planning stages. As Ward 5 Councillor, I have made a commitment that at every stage of the process, the community will have a strong voice, and an opportunity to actively participate. Getting the opinions and feedback of the people who live in the neighbourhood is, in my role as Councillor, absolutely necessary.