Richmond Hill (2006 population 162,704, 2008 Estimate: 181,000) is a town located in Southern Ontario, Canada in the central portion of York Region, Ontario. It is part of the Greater Toronto Area, being located about halfway between Toronto and Lake Simcoe. It is about 3 miles (5 kilometres) north of the Toronto city limit, Steeles Avenue and about 12 miles (20 kilometres) north of the downtown core of Toronto. It is the third most populous municipality in York Region and the 28th most populous municipality in Canada.
Once considered the "Rose Capital of the World", Richmond Hill has in recent years seen a huge population upsurge, being Canada's fastest-growing community in the 1990s. The town is home to the world-renowned David Dunlap Observatory telescope. It is twinned with Lakeland, Florida.
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 and the population from a little over 19,000 to some 34,000. 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.
Oak Ridges is an unincorporated community to the north of Richmond Hill, and has fallen within the limits of Richmond Hill ever since its annexation in 1971. It is largely residential, with most commercial development located along Yonge Street. Located about 16.5 km north of Toronto and has a population of approximately 20,000 people. The town developed around Lake Wilcox, the largest lake in the area and a community within Oak Ridges, and has continued to expand slowly since its annexation. In the 1990s, Oak Ridges experienced moderate growth, which has spurred environmental action and anti-development movements by numerous organizations.
Southern Richmond Hill is home to the town's and industrial region housing most of the town's hotels, as well as the main commercial area of the town's Chinese community. The northern part of town is considered to be Old Richmond Hill as it is a historical area. Central Richmond Hill is a very commercial area, housing multiple malls, plazas and entertainment buildings, such as theatres and restaurants. The northern most part of the town is mostly farm land, though it is slowly being developed.
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, along a stretch of Highway 7 between Bayview Avenue and Leslie Street.
Mill Pond is a park located in the southern region of Richmond Hill that is surrounded by heritage homes. The park surrounds an old mill pond, hence the name Mill Pond. There are many walking trails and the park is home to a variety of wildlife species, including ducks, swans, racoons, geese, and beavers. The park is the venue for various town events ranging from a winter carnival to concerts and flower shows. Every year, Mill Pond is home to the Richmond Hill Winter and Summer Carnivals.
Mill Pond is also home to the Georgian-styled neighbourhood of Heritage Estates, centered around Regent Street. The neighbourhood was built in the early 1980s by a local Toronto developer. Some of the homes are situated among the trails and ravines of Mill Pond Park.
The old downtown Richmond Hill is considered the strip of Yonge Street between Major Mackenzie in the south and Richmond Heights in the north. For years this street was infamous for having an equal amount of churches as there were strip clubs/adults only stores. Directly across from the community centre was the bright pink "Fantasia" strip club. Not far down the street stood Richmond Hill's oldest church. Fantasia burnt under suspicious circumstances although no allegations were ever made by the authorities. Due to various community initiatives, most of the "Adult" stores are now closed and are replaced by more civic-oriented structures. In 2007, the former "Fantasia" property was finally levelled, and development of a new exclusive condominium started, adding to a mix of upscale and small town charm that makes up the much improved downtown area.
The new theatre was opened in 2009 and provides a modern venue for live performances.
The Bayview Hill is a subdivision located on Bayview Avenue and 16th Avenue. Built in the early 1990s, the subdivision contains large expansive homes.
Jefferson is a newly developed neighbourhood, with housing begin to occupy in 2007. The community is named after Jefferson Sideroad, a major thoroughfare in the neighbourhood. Jefferson includes a large area, roughly bounded by Gamble Road in the south, Bathurst Street in the west and Bayview Avenue in the east. The community includes a residential subdivision namely Jefferson Forest, located in the southeast portion of the community.