Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, York Region says it’s making progress on its four-year strategic plan, with 23 of 31 – or 74 per cent – of performance measures trending in the right direction.
“These accomplishments demonstrate our collaborative efforts and commitment to ensuring high-quality programs and services are available to residents,” says York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson.
The 2019 to 2023 Strategic Plan is described as a “road map” that guides York Region toward Council’s vision of the future and provides a detailed course of action over the term of council.
It represents the region’s commitment to four priorities: increase economic prosperity; support community health, safety and well-being; build sustainable communities and protect the environment; and deliver trusted and efficient services.
The region tracks and measures the plan annually to ensure it’s making progress. According to its Year 2 (2020) Progress Report, accomplishments include reaching 5.26 million visits to york.ca and deploying new business solutions, dashboards and online projects to support its pandemic response.
It earned top scores in the Ontario Chief Drinking Water Inspector’s report, with 99.98 per cent of samples meeting provincial standards. It also completed 133 lane kilometres of road rehabilitation and 86 lane kilometres of road preservation projects and launched six electric buses to support its goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2051.
Several performance measures weren’t trending in the desired direction. The number of transit ridership per capita, for instance, decreased significantly compared to previous years, reaching 9.5 million riders. Ridership was primarily impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic with work-from-home initiatives, school closures and limitations on travel for leisure.
The number of trees and shrubs planted through the Regional Greening Strategy Program decreased compared to previous years’ achievements. The region fell short of its goal of planting 70,000 trees and shrubs by 9,500, largely because of COVID-19-related safety concerns accessing private properties but expects to make up the shortfall in the coming years.
Also trending in the wrong direction: the percentage of individuals and families remaining stably housed after six months who were homeless or at risk of homelessness, which stood at 81 per cent in 2020 – a number comparable to the previous year. Again, the pandemic was a factor, but the Region quickly opened two new temporary shelters to stop the spread of COVID-19 into other emergency housing facilities in the region.
Photo of York Region electric bus courtesy of York Region.