Reid McAlpine

Councillor Unionville Ward 3

…for a better Markham!

November 2023

Dear Neighbour,

I hope that you had plenty of ghosts and goblins at your door on Halloween! That was a cap on a very busy month of October in Markham.

Of course, we have all been shocked by the horrible events in the  Middle East and the deaths of thousands of innocent bystanders. My heart goes out our Jewish, Israeli, Muslim and Palestinian communities for the pain they are experiencing. A Candle Light Vigil is being held in memory of innocent lives lost, on November 16 at 7 pm at the Unionville Bandstand. A Peace Rally for Gaza will also be held the Saturday, November 4 at the Civic Centre, sponsored by the Mosques and Islamic Centres of York Region.

Markham was implicated in those tragic events when Islamic History Month displays were briefly removed from our libraries due to some very unfortunate internal miscommunication. It was regrettable and understandably hurtful to our Muslim community. You can read more here from the CBC. The city and library will be undertaking anti-Islamophobic training for staff. This will be an important complement to the diversity and anti-Black Racism training already completed under the city’s Diversity and Anti-Black Racism Action Plans.

We were also in the headlines over the cancellation of the installation of a very large public art mural planned for the west side of the Pan Am Centre. This decision was also regrettable, particularly given how late in the process it was made. The theme of the art was related to transsexuality. I certainly have no problem with this important issue being explored through public art in Markham, but I think most of us would agree that the scale and location of the piece were not appropriate. I happen to sit on the Markham Public Art Advisory Committee (MPAAC) but the committee was not involved in this particular project. I remain committed to a public art program free of political interference, but a review of the governance process is required (and is happening), so we can learn from this project. You can also read more about the issue in this article from the CBC.

In more encouraging news the province finally backtracking on many questionable decisions regarding land opened for development through arbitrary Ministerial Zoning Orders and the York Region Official Plan (YROP). This on top of the Greenbelt scandal. Here is a city staff report from a year ago on the provincial changes to the YROP that would seem to be back on the table for reconsideration.

While several developers in Markham benefited from these decisions, one in particular, Flato, stands out. They had land removed from the Greenbelt; they received 9 MZOs, the most in the province; and they received special treatment in the York Region Official Plan (YROP) without any consultation with York Region or the City of Markham. Of course Flato is the title sponsor of the Flato Markham Theatre. There is a petition circulating to remove the name from the theatre. You can sign it here.

Finally, of course November 11 marks Remembrance Day. Events will be held in the Flato Markham Theatre on November 10 at 10:30 am, and on the 11th at 11 am at the Markham Village and Unionville cenotaphs. I will be attending the event in Unionville. I hope to see many familiar faces there to pay tribute to those who have fought for our freedom going back well over 100 years.