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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We will continue next time with other York Region incidents and concerns.
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