The Regional Municipality of York was established by Bill 102 An Act to Establish the Regional Municipality of York of the provincial parliament, passed on June 26, 1970 and coming into force on January 1, 1971. The act expanded Richmond Hill's borders, annexing parts of Whitchurch Township, Markham Township, Vaughan Township and King Township into Richmond Hill, expanding the area covered from to and the population from a little over 19000 to some 34000. The town grew to encompass the communities of Gormley, Dollar, Langstaff, Carrville, Headford, Elgin Mills, Jefferson, Bond Lake, Temperanceville, Lake Wilcox, Oak Ridges and Richvale. While Richmond Hill was a prosperous, well developed town, many of the outlying areas annexed were far more rural, with dirt roads, no water mains or sewers and no streetlights, and the time needed to bring municipal services up in these areas, combined with residual unequal tax assessments caused considerable conflict in the municipal politics for some time. Policing was taken over by the York Regional Police, but fire protection remained with Richmond Hill, whose firefighting force quickly grew. Having hired its first full time employee in 1967, it had fourteen full time employees by 1971.
Yonge Street through Richmond Hill expanded from two lanes to four in 1971, relieving congestion on what had become known as "Ontario's worst stretch of highway".
The Richmond Hill Dynes Jewellers softball team was the 1972 Softball World Champions. The Royal Canadian Air Farce was recorded at the Curtain Club Theatre in Richmond Hill for its first 5 seasons on radio, beginning in 1973. The Air Farce returned for an anniversary recording in the 1990s. Also in 1973 was the centennial of the town's incorporation as a village, and the town set up a number of celebratory activities, including a beard growing contest, commissioning a centennial song, a parade, a street dance and the unveiling of an historic plaque honouring the town's founding in front of the municipal offices. June 27 was officially declared Russell Lynett Day, named after the town's clerk, only the third in its existence. 1973 also saw the sale of the last of the original rose growing greenhouses in Richmond Hill. Development had lead to increasing property taxes and the H.J. Mills greenhouses relocated to Bayview Avenue and Elgin Mill Road. The site of the greenhouses was developed as a subdivision. The fast growing town set aside significant areas for parks, with five new parks dedicated in 1973, and two more in 1974. The Richmond Hill Historical Society was founded in 1973. The society was dedicated to preserving the history of Richmond Hill and raising awareness of the town's history. Their first action was to restore 150 year old house, known as the Burr House.
As the 1970s went on, the population growth of Richmond Hill remained large. In 1976, home prices in Richmond Hill were among the highest in Canada. By this time, the town council was split over whether to keep expanding rapidly. The deadlock over a fifty-five house subdivision named Springmills Estate lead to one councillor saying that it was not the reform council it was dubbed, but a "deformed council". Other housing projects faced similar problems as councillors debated many things, including the need for affordable housing and the encroachment of homes into the farmland and the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Growth in Richmond Hill slowed towards the end of the 1970s, with M.L. McConaghy Public School closing in 1979 due to dropping enrollment. At the same time, Richmond Hill began to make official plans for future land development. The first official plan concerned a industrial park at Leslie Street and Highway 7 named Beaver Creek. A commercial area within the park spread into the hamlet of Dollar. The plan was rejected, however, by the Ontario Municipal Board, and Richmond Hill was the first municipality in Ontario to have its official plan rejected outright by the board. The whole affair was subject to much controversy in the community, although the town council eventually declined to appeal the decision.
When the new council convened in 1980, lead by new mayor Al Duffy, the town remained without a development plan. The council hired civic planner Peter Walker to produce a new official plan. By September 1981, the new plan was draft, with limited development of northern Richmond Hill, industrial development centred in the south-east part of town and commercial centres remaining along Yonge Street. The plan was approved in July 1982 by the Ontario Municipal Board.
A clash over the use of the land in Langstaff, known as the Langstaff Jail Farm erupted in 1982 between Richmond Hill and Toronto, which owned the land. The plot of land had been acquired by Toronto in 1911, and was unused in 1982. Toronto's plans for development clashed with those of Richmond Hill over the balance of industry and residential development, with Richmond Hill favouring more industrial development.
The rose business left Richmond Hill in June 1982, with the closure of H.J. Mills florists. Mills had died in 1980 leaving the company to his son, but the poor economic conditions, combined with increasing property taxes in the growing city made the business unprofitable. A 1984 contest organised by The Liberal had readers submit entries for a new town slogan. The town council choose three of the submissions which residents then voted on, and "A little north, a little nicer" became Richmond Hill's new town slogan.
Richmond Hill's growth continued explosively in the 1990s, fueled in significant part by immigration. In the early 90s, Statistics Canada named Richmond Hill as the fastest growing community in Canada. The demographic base began to change too, with the Richmond Hill Association for Multiculturalism founded in 1989 by Jay Chauhan. Today, Richmond Hill is a multicultural town, with a Hebrew school, a Hindu temple, Chinese language churches, and other facilities serving the needs of the communities.
The council derives its authority primarily from the Municipal Act, 2001 and the amendments of the Municipal Law Amendment Act, 2006. Richmond Hill is a lower-tier municipality and has the roles and responsibilities of that position. The municipality has a wide purview relating to the interests of the municipality and its residents to develop and maintain policies, practices and procedures through the issuing of bylaws relating to highways, transportation systems apart from highways, waste management, public utilities, culture, parks, recreation and heritage, drainage and flood control, parking, animals, economic development and the licensing of business. The town in also responsible for maintaining its finances in order to provide relevant services and for maintaining an official plan to guide development.
Richmond Hill was a winner in the 2003 National Communities in Bloom competition, with a special mention about the town's floral displays.
|Agriculture and other resource-based industries||820|
|Manufacturing and construction industries||12200|
|Wholesale and retail trade||13995|
|Finance and real estate||7990|
|Health and education||9960|
The labour force is divided into many areas, with no one area dominating the economic activity of Richmond Hill. The 2001 Canadian census showed some 76 245 people employed in Richmond Hill, with 43 675 employed full time. The participation rate in the labour force was 69.9%, with 66.4% of people actually employed. The unemployment rate was thus a low 5.0%, compared with the 7.4% unemployment rate across Canada as a whole during that period.
Most business in Richmond Hill are small businesses, with more than half of all employers in the town having four workers or less. The town is home to the corporate headquarters of Acklands Grainger Inc., Apotex Inc., Black & Decker Canada, Compugen Systems Inc., Compuware Canada, Dynatec Corporation, Levi Strauss Canada, Lexmark Canada, Mazda Canada, Rogers Communication (Ontario), Science & Medicine Canada, Staples Business Depot and Suzuki Canada.
|Employer||York Central Hospital||Apotex||Bulk Barn Foods|
The York Catholic District School Board operates 13 Catholic elementary schools in Richmond Hill. It also operates 1 Catholic secondary school, St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School, with a second slated to open in 2009.
There are also three private primary schools located in Richmond Hill, and three private secondary schools, including Holy Trinity School.
The only post-secondary school located within Richmond Hill is Seneca College, which maintains a campus in Richmond Hill. Beyond this, post-secondary education services are provided to the residents of Richmond Hill by other post-secondary educational institutions in Toronto.
During the 1990s, Chinese immigrants primarily from Hong Kong moved to Richmond Hill, where they set up businesses and shops catering to the community. Many shops and restaurants were established in suburban-style shopping malls and plazas (such as Times Square, Commerce Gate) along a stretch of Highway 7 between Bayview Avenue and Leslie Street. The most intense development is concentrated around the Commerce Valley Drive/Beaver Creek Road loop. Some of the well-known higher end Chinese banquet restaurants are in this area.
Construction of a new theatre in the town's downtown core is proceeding. It will open in 2009.
The town itself is at a much greater elevation than other communities within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and with exclusion of areas closely alongside its borders, the constituent of York region with the greatest height above sea level. The uneven melting of the glacier that formed the town has led to an extremely varied geography within the town's own borders, leading to such features as kettle lakes, minor tributaries and most notably the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Kettle lakes are the result of glacier water getting caught in water-tight depressions in the land and are sustained by only rainfall in the immediate area. The Town of Richmond Hill has many of these water bodies and its three largest in order of decreasing size are Lake Wilcox, Bond Lake and Philips Lake. The kettle lakes are predominantly confined to the northern fringes of the town.
Being elevated above the surrounding region, precipitation in the town tends to flow outwards via the multitude of streams and rivers that flow through the town. Principally water flow is in one of two directions, south to Lake Ontario or north to Lake Simcoe where they join up with larger tributaries that feed into the water bodies. Of note, are the Rouge and Don rivers which receive some of their flow from sources in the town.
Perhaps the most important geographical feature of the Town of Richmond Hill is the Oak Ridges Moraine. The moraine is a further elevated region of loose soil which comprises a significant portion (roughly the northern third) of the land area of the town. Its porous nature allows the collection and natural filtering of waters that flow through it which are then fed into multiple underground aquifers. While the town receives its water from the City of Toronto, these aquifers are an important source for those with their own wells in addition to surrounding communities. The ability of the soil to hold so much water means that despite Richmond Hill's comparatively high elevation, it has a very high water table which poses some problems to construction. The moraine is also host to a staggering amount of biodiversity and in recent years there has been a considerable amount of pressure applied to government to shield the area from development. Consequently, a considerable portion of Richmond Hill is subject to the Ontario Government's Greenbelt legislation.
The David Dunlap Observatory is home to the largest reflecting telescope in Canada. The telescope was the second largest in the world upon its construction in 1935. The observatory is a research facility of the University of Toronto.