After being unanimously re-elected to a third term as chairman and CEO of York Region, Wayne Emmerson shared progress made over the past eight years but reminded councillors about important responsibilities that lay ahead.
“We enter this term of council in a time of global economic uncertainty and in the face of a recession. Interest rates are rising, and life is becoming increasingly less affordable for our residents,” he said at the inaugural meeting of the 2022 to 2026 term on November 17.
“This means more and more individuals and families will rely on us for essential programs and services…The issues of affordable housing, broadband connectivity, economic development, transportation and growth will continue to be top priorities for our residents.”
The last term of council “was unlike any before it,” said Emmerson. “In early 2020, we faced a global pandemic that brought business, the community and our economy to a grinding halt. In response, a state of emergency was declared for the first time in York Region’s 51-year history.”
But the region’s response to the pandemic “balanced the health and safety of residents with the economic interests of local businesses” and “helped protect our communities and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Emmerson. He served as mayor of Whitchurch-Stouffville for 17 years before first being elected chairman and CEO of York Region in 2014.
During the last term, council approved both the Yonge North Subway Extension, a top transportation project, and the 2022 Development Charges Bylaw to help fund infrastructure needed to service planned growth. Council also supported the York University Markham Centre Campus, which will bring 4,200 new student spaces to York in the 2023/2024 academic year.
Key investments in broadband connectivity, meanwhile, helped expand the YorkNet fibre network, bringing high-speed internet to thousands of underserved households and businesses across the region, Emmerson reported. Council also updated the Regional Official Plan, which helps coordinate infrastructure delivery to meet the needs of a growing population, and made a commitment to address housing affordability challenges through public and private partnerships.
As chairman and CEO of York Region, Emmerson is an ex-officio member of all regional committees. Additionally, he’s vice chair of York Regional Police Services Board, a member of the YorkNet board, CEO of the York Region Rapid Transit Board, chair of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, co-chair of Toronto Global and a member of the board of directors for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Members of York Regional council are elected in a ‘double direct election,’ which means they serve on two councils: their local municipal council and regional council. Council’s 22 members set policies, direction and budgets for York. Council meets through Committee of the Whole, where members consider public input, review policies and consider staff reports before making recommendations to regional council for approval.
Photo: Wayne Emmerson has been re-elected to a third term as chairman and CEO of York Region.