Reid McAlpine

Councillor Unionville Ward 3

…for a better Markham!

May 2024

Dear Neighbour,

As I begin preparation of this newsletter, I have just returned from the semiannual community clean up in South Unionville, sponsored by the South Unionville Resident Forum and the South Unionville Community Association. This is their 21st year! Congratulations to all who participated and thank you for helping to make our community somewhere we can all be proud to live.

I will be hosting similar community clean ups on May 11 along Bruce Creek between Carlton and Victoria Ave and on May 14 the “Provincial Day of Action on Litter” at the Unionville Bandstand and Millennium Square Park. Details below.

Earlier in the day I also joined 10,000 Trees for the Rouge for their annual mass planting event. This time we were at the TRCA’s Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area. Hundreds of participants, including many families, participated. I’m always happy get my hands dirty for a great cause.

April was a busy month at council. The culmination was perhaps the conditional approval of the Mount Joy secondary plan (actually an amendment to the official plan). This is a very long range framework for intensification around the Mount Joy GO station. It envisions 33,000 new residents — some time long after I am dead and buried!

The important thing in this for us in Ward 3 was the conditions or “stage gates” city staff are now working on to phase the development. These will rely primarily on improved transportation infrastructure and service levels: a VIVA bus rapid transit system on Major Mackenzie Drive; a new GO station near Major Mac and Markham Road; 15 or 20 minute service on the Stouffville GO line (which to my mind will require at least 5 and maybe more multi-million dollar grade separations where currently the line crosses major roads at level crossings. It also means running huge trains at grade through two heritage conservation districts [Unionville and Markham Village] every 15 or 20 minutes, which I am not convinced is supportable, unless the service switches to much smaller vehicles, more like an LRT line.) The bylaw implementing the secondary plan and the conditions should come to council for approval in June. Further public deputations can be made at that time for council’s consideration.

This decision, I think, will set an important precedent for the Markville secondary plan. I will be looking for stage gates tied to much more frequent service on the GO line, and dedicated bus lanes and VIVA service on McCowan Road and Highway 7. Of course there are plenty of other issues to resolve (schools, parks, parking, total density etc.) but transportation would seem to provide the most leverage to help control the build out of the area.

A interesting twist for both secondary plans areas, built around “Major Transit Station Areas”, is that the new Ontario Bill 185 takes away the city’s ability to establish parking minimums in those MTSAs. That means that new condos and rental buildings can be built with no resident parking, if the developer proposes this approach. (This city can still impose maximums.) I have long supported this policy. It will go some way to addressing the problem of increased road congestion that comes with new development and will make investments in public transit make sense. It can also make units significantly more affordable.

Also on the development front. City planning staff recently provided a summary of all the residential development applications in play across the city in our newer high density neighbourhoods. Many of these will take quite a number of more years to actually be built. But it gives you a sense of what the future is looking like in Markham (and across the GTA for that matter.)

Lots more community news and events below. (Don’t miss the little notice for the Unionville Festival on June 1 and 2!) I hope you are able to get out and enjoy the spring weather, the odd rainy day notwithstanding. And don’t forget those important women in your lives. May 12 is Mothers Day.