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约克区老年公寓的拆迁风波
York Regional Council plagued by bureaucratic inefficiency

约克区政府决定拆除万锦市的耆老村——Heritage Village内之住房引起公众的强烈不满。Bob Mok在本系列专栏中揭露了约克区议会在管理纳税人金钱方面的官僚低效作风。读者如欲参照前文,可点击http://096.ca/news/650632
York Region’s decision to tear down homes in Heritage Village – a senior residence in Markham – has sparked public outcry. In his column series, Bob Mok exposes York Regional Council bureaucratic inefficiency in managing taxpayers’ money. For an earlier article, see http://096.ca/news/650632
 
约克区拥有100多万人口,作为万锦市的纳税人之一,我可以肯定我所缴纳的物业税里有近半是流入了约克区政府的金库,这一比例显然已高得惊人。区政府有责任确保其下属城市、城镇和乡镇成员获得所需的综合性服务,而居民可期望通过这种管理机制提高效率和透明度,但结果是否事与愿违?
 
York Region has a population of over one million and as one of the ratepayers in Markham, I can confirm that about 50% of my property taxes go into the Region's coffers, which is shockingly high. The Regional Government secures and provides consolidated services to its cities, towns, and township members. Efficiency and transparencies are expected by the residents through this arrangement but are they getting it? 
 
 
居民期望他们的区议员能够充分参与和熟悉约克区的各种事务,并使其利益得到保障。然而,近期事件却令居民心生疑虑。
 
Residents expect their Regional Councillors to be fully engaged and familiar with York Region affairs and protect their interests. Instead, some of the recent incidents left residents with doubts.
 
 
2015年7月,于人村Heritage Village(万锦市的一个大型耆老村)的110位居民突然被告知他们的房屋将会悉数拆除,因为于人村房屋协会(UHC)已经将该地块出售给开发商Minto,而该交易的附加条件就是开发商必须将部分土地转售给约克区,以兴建专供老年人居住的新保障房,其余土地则由开发商开发其他类型住房。据估计,当地的老年公寓建筑将于2017年动工,于2020年完工。
 
In July 2015, 110 residents of the Heritage Village in Unionville ( a sprawling seniors’ residence in Markham) were told that their homes will be demolished. The Unionville Home Society (UHC) sold the land to the developer Minto on condition that a portion of the land is resold to York Region to build new affordable housing for seniors with the rest developed into homes by the developer. It is estimated that construction of the senior housing will begin in 2017 and be complete in 2020. 
 
 
据近期进行建筑状态评估,UHC宣称据估计在未来五年内需要再投资约$350万元资金用于更换窗户、屋顶、供暖系统以及其他陈旧基础设施。此外,由于耆老村内的建筑物都是木结构并且没有喷淋灭火系统,因此它们“不再安全”。
 
UHC claimed that after a recent building condition assessment it was estimated it would cost about $3.5 million in capital reinvestment during the next five years to replace things like windows, roofs, heating systems and other older infrastructure. The buildings are “no longer safe,” because they have wooden frames and no sprinkler system.
 
虽然当地的新老年公寓并不是在Heritage Village所在地兴建,但是据约克区政府工作人员称,他们仍需拆除当地的建筑物,因为当局是出售整个地块,而地带建筑物丛生,因此他们必须拆除现有建筑物以为开发商进场扫清障碍。
 
The Region's new building will not be located where the Heritage Village homes are but York Region staff said they need to tear the homes down for the construction. They claimed that it is a single site with rather limited access, and they have to decommission the existing buildings to make the site accessible.
 
 
尽管Heritage Village的现有居民可以优先入住约克区的新建老年公寓,但在新公寓落成之前,他们将不得不另寻住处。这也令Village的居民顿感失措,愤懑。多年来,当地许多拥有私家花园的居民一直在这个小型社区里安享晚年,他们都深深眷恋着这片土地。显然,在更换住处后他们将会失去目前所享的一些特权。
 
While existing residents will be given top priority to move into the new York Region buildings, they will have to find another place to stay until the building are ready. This put the Village residents into emotional turmoil and sudden distress. Many of them enjoyed the small community with their own gardens for years and are very attached to them. They realized that some of these privileges will be gone in the replacement homes.
 
很显然,在约克区议会于今年6月底通过该地区的土地开发决议后,相关的开发和过渡计划的时间表已经开始生效。而在Village的居民看来,约克区政府显然没有将他们的需求纳入总体规划,无意通过公共咨询解决他们的诉求。于是,当地居民开始携手发起请愿寻求公众支持。
 
Apparently, the region’s decision was just passed in council at the end of June, putting development and transition plan timelines into effect. To the residents in the Village, the York Region did not put their needs into the overall plan and address it with public input. The residents organized and started a petition seeking public support.
 
在新闻媒体曝光此事后,区议会开始与Village的老年住户举行会谈,并最终达成了可让他们在过渡期避免强制搬迁的协议。而这一协议与区议会以及开发商的原计划相背。如果当地居民没有齐心协力将此事公诸于众,这些老年住户就只能默默地逆来顺受,而许多人都质问为什么当局会任由事态发展如此地步。
 
After the News medium picked up the story, the Region started meetings with Senior tenants at the Village and arrangements were eventually made to avoid a transitional period where they have to move out. This is a reversal to the Region and the developer's original plans. Without their concerted effort to bring this issue out to the public, the seniors would have suffered their fate in silence and many questioned why it was allowed to get to that critical condition in the first place.
 
 
此外,所谓的“安全”问题也令人存疑。如果相关建筑物真如UHC所说,目前已经“不再安全”,那我们为什么还会允许这些居民在新公寓建设期间继续在那里居住?这个问题目前仍然没有答案。
 
This still leaves a question on “Safety”. If these buildings are currently “no longer safe” as declared by UHC, why are we allowing these conditions while the new ones are getting built? The question remains unanswered.
 
 
很显然,区议员们并没有及早了解约克区政府工作人员制定的拆除计划,或没有及时征询这些老年选民的意见以采取补救措施为他们排忧解惑。
It is evident that the Regional Councillors were not made aware of the demolition plans by the York Region staff earlier on or that they failed to consult their senior constituents on time to take remedial actions to address their concerns.
 
下一次,我们将继续探讨约克区的其他事件和关注热点。
We will continue next time with other York Region incidents and concerns.
 

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