74 75 MARKHAM, ONTARIO what I want to leave behind here, recognizing we live in a different community; a different world.” Part of a two-tier system of government, the local municipality of Markham is comprised of the former Township of Markham, the villages of Unionville, Milliken, Thornhill, and smaller hamlets, including Buttonville. The township evolved to the Town of Markham, and five years ago became the city of Markham with a current population over 350,000. The Regional Munici- pality of York does the broader based planning, and manages transportation systems and essen- tial services, like police and fire. “I’m coming up to 14 years as Mayor of Markham, with about 30 years total on council,” says Scarpitti. “When I was elected in the mid- ‘80s, I chaired the committee that put in place the first Regional Official Plan. Looking in the rear-view mirror, you see the importance of a regional plan that ties our communities together regarding transportation, public transit, and other major services.” A sustainability plan called Green Prints is an example of Markham’s commitment to the en- vironment.When the plan originally passed, it was one of the most comprehensive in North America, having an overall goal of becoming a completely sustainable community by 2050. Advances have been made towards it on sever- al fronts. Markham has always been a leader in storm water management, both in adopting new technology, and the way new subdivisions meet updated criteria. They’re now working with the older communities on 100-year flood protection that newer areas already have. For example, Thornhill is receiving over $40 million of new infrastructure to retrofit catch basins, and devel- op stormwater catchment areas. Markham has one of the largest solar portfolios in Ontario, and was the first municipality in the province to sign a FIT agreement to supply power back to the grid. Rooftop solar panels have been installed on all large municipal facilities, including the Markham PanAm Centre. In its Economic Plan 2020, Markham contin- ues building on its status as Canada’s high-tech capital. The city boasts many recognizable brands in the IT sector; last year’s announcement that General Motors is opening its Innovation Centre in Markham will result in over 1,000 software engineering jobs. Other industries represented include professional engineering firms that do business globally, as well as respected names in the finance, insurance, and digital sectors. Having well-educated, highly-skilled, creative people living and working in Canada’s most diverse city has created a dynamic, prosperous economy for the Markham region. Even housing options are diversified. From condos, to townhouses, to single family homes on smaller lots, the city is trying to reduce urban sprawl and use land more efficiently. The only issue, as in many communities, is that housing prices have skyrocketed in the last couple years - something that not only speaks to Markham’s desirability, but the ability to work through the challenging planning process in Ontario: getting AT A GLANCE CITY OF MARKHAM, ONTARIO WHAT: Innovative technology hub; population 350,000 WHERE: York Region, Greater Toronto Area, Ontario WEBSITE: www.markham.ca