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Aurora, Ontario History
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Aurora (2006 Population 47,629, 2010 estimate 53,892) is an affluent town in York Region, approximately 20 km north of Toronto. It is partially situated on the Oak Ridges Moraine, and is a part of the Greater Toronto Area and Golden Horseshoe of Southern Ontario.
Many Aurora residents commute to Toronto and surrounding communities.
In the Canada 2006 Census, the national rank of population of Aurora rose above 100th for the first time, reaching 97th in Canada's list of largest municipalities in terms of population, compared to 113rd in the 2001 Census.
A map of Aurora from 1878. Scale is denoted in chains, a measure equivalent to 66 feet or 20.12 metres.
Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe gave the order for Yonge Street to be extended to Holland Landing in 1793, the way was paved for the establishment of a community where Aurora now stands.
In 1804, Richard Machell became the first merchant at the cross roads of Yonge and Wellington and the hamlet soon became known as Machell's Corners.
Charles Doan was another early businessman at Machell's Corners and became the first postmaster and later the first reeve. As postmaster, he was influential in renaming the village Aurora.
With the coming of the railway in 1853, Aurora emerged as an important centre north of Toronto. The Fleury plow works was established soon after and Aurora was on its way to becoming a flourishing industrial town.
The population of Aurora in 1863 was 700, and by 1888 it had grown to become a town of 2,107 residents. With some ups and downs in growth over the years, Aurora is now a flourishing town with a strong commercial and industrial base.
Worthy of note is the fact that Aurora was the childhood home of Lester B. Pearson, Prime Minister of Canada from 1963–1968, when his father, Rev. Edwin Pearson, was the Methodist minister.
The Town is noted for preserving its historical built form and in 2008 was awarded The Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership. In 2009 the Town received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Community Leadership in heritage conservation and promotion.
On April 8, 2010, the Town re-opened the historic and fully renovated Church Street School as the Aurora Cultural Centre. Besides promoting local arts and culture, the new Centre's mandate includes the preservation of an extensive local historical collection, and helping to program heritage activities within the Centre.
Aurora is twinned with Leksand, Sweden.
According to the 2006 Census, the town had a population of 47,629. The town has estimated its 2010 population to be 53,892. The town's growth rate from 2001 to 2006 was 18.6 per cent.
Based upon current population figures and total area, the town's population density is just over 1,000 per square kilometre.
The population is forecasted to reach approximately 62,288 by 2015 and 69,688 by 2020.
The Town of Aurora municipal government is composed of a mayor and eight councillors elected on an "at large" basis. The councillor with the highest votes becomes the deputy mayor and may proxy for the mayor. The mayor is a member of York Regional Council. In the municipal elections of 25 October 2010, Geoff Dawe was elected mayor; he will be sworn in to office in December.
The town is part of the federal riding of Newmarket—Aurora. The riding was notable with the election of former MP, Belinda Stronach, a member of the Liberal Party of Canada. She had been elected as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, but on May 17, 2005 she crossed the floor, citing discomfort with the social policies of the Conservatives as one of the reasons for the switch. She was re-elected as a Liberal in the election on January 23, 2006. In April, 2007, she announced that she would leave politics and return to her father's business, Magna International. The riding is now represented by MP Lois Brown of the Conservative Party of Canada, who was elected in the 2008 federal election. Aurora is also part of the provincial riding of Newmarket—Aurora. The member of Provincial Parliament is Frank Klees, who was elected in the Ontario general election, 2007. Klees belongs to the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario and resides in Aurora.
Local police services are provided by the York Regional Police, who serve all of the municipalities of the region. Fire protection services are provided by Central York Fire Services, a shared arrangement with the town of Newmarket.
Public health services are managed by York Region. There is no hospital within Aurora's boundaries; the nearest one is Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket.
Town Councillor Council Code of Conduct issue
In August 2009 a controversy erupted when the Aurora town council fired its integrity commissioner in a special meeting just before receiving his first decision on a contentious issue. Three of eight councillors were absent from the special meeting. The mayor and five councillors, representing a majority of Council, who were present at the special meeting had filed a complaint with the integrity commissioner against councillor Evelyn Buck for comments made in her blog.
In explaining to the public why a complaint was launched, (but without referencing who the complaint was against), Mayor Phyllis Morris said in a September 8, 2009 memo to Council "When a Town Councillor made critical and disparaging public and published statements about Staff that were unfounded and unmerited, Council attempted to address the matter with the Councillor in a discreet and informal manner. Council was extremely disappointed when these efforts proved unsuccessful."
Although the integrity commissioner's report has not been released to the public, according to a public document filed with Council on September 8, 2009, "The response received from the Town's former Integrity Commissioner has confused the matter. The former Integrity Commissioner did NOT in any way rule on the merits of the complaint. In fact, the response unequivocally states: 'The Integrity Commissioner makes no assessment of the merits or lack thereof of the substance of the allegations.'
"Rather, the former Integrity Commissioner focused his response on the format of the complaint. However, Council was bound by and made sure it followed the precise protocol established in its Code of Conduct. The actual merits of the complaint remain unresolved."Council memo
A July 3, 2010 report to the Town of Aurora Council, by Aurora's new, and current, Integrity Commissioner, the Hon. David Tsubouchi, regarding two complaints laid against Councillor Evelyn Buck by a fellow Councillor, found that with regards to the first complaint:
"44. I conclude that Councillor Evelyn Buck violated the Code of Conduct in that the Councillor Evelyn Buck did not "accurately and adequately communicate the attitudes and decisions of Council" and did not "show respect for the decision making of Council" and did not convey accurately the procedures of council.
"45. I recommend that a reprimand be issued against the Councillor Evelyn Buck."
In the second ruling of the same report, the Integrity Commissioner found:
"11. The confusion surrounding the circumstances of the two legal opinion letters and the public statements and release of information give me reason to find that Councillor Evelyn Buck had made an error in judgement made in good faith.
"12. Councillor Evelyn Buck is an elected official of experience and ought to know that confidentiality applies unless otherwise authorized by Council.
"13. Although I am determining that there is no contravention because of this honest mistaken belief, no future similar occurrence will be viewed in the same manner."
Aurora residents have access to a wide range of educational facilities, including private, public, separate (Catholic) and French language schools, daycare, nursery, elementary and secondary schools.
Both publicly-funded school boards for York Region maintain head offices in Aurora. The York Region District School Board is located on 60 Wellington Street West, just west of the historical downtown area, and the York Catholic District School Board is located at 320 Bloomington Road West, adjacent to Cardinal Carter Catholic High School.
The York Region District School Board operates the secular public school education system in York Region, which has two high schools in Aurora:
as well as several elementary schools.
The York Catholic District School Board operates several elementary schools in Aurora, as well as Cardinal Carter Catholic High School and St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic High School.
Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud, which administers French-language Catholic schools runs an elementary school, École St. Jean, and a high school, École secondaire catholique Renaissance (formerly ÉSC Cardinal-Carter).
Also, St. Andrew's College, an independent school for boys, is located in Aurora.
The Aurora Public Library is a public library funded and operated by the town.
Currently, a largely undeveloped portion of Aurora is subject to the Ontario Government's Greenbelt legislation which enforces limits on growth in designated Green Belt locations. In Aurora, this affects mostly the south-eastern areas of the town.
Growth is occurring in the north-eastern locations, particularly in the form of high-density residential homes and townhouses along Bayview Ave and north of Wellington St. E. (also known as "Aurora Rd."), and commerce along Wellington St. E. on Aurora's eastern border between Leslie St. and Hwy. 404. The State Farm Insurance Canada headquarters has recently relocated to this location.
The Official Plan Steering Committee is composed of: Mayor Phyllis Morris, Chairperson; Councillor John Gallo, Vice Chair; Councillor Wendy Gaertner and Councillor Evelina MacEachern.
Future growth will be concentrated in two greenfield areas of the Town: the 2C Lands, located on the east and west sides of Leslie Street, running north from Aurora Road to the Town limit, just north of the St. John's Sideroad. As part of its current Official Plan review, Town Council will soon be considering a plan that will see employment lands, worth approximately 6,000 jobs, preserved on the east side of Leslie Street, with residential restricted to the west side of Leslie Street.
The Aurora Promenade
One other area of growth will be via intensification along the Yonge and Wellington Street corridors. As part of the Town's Official Plan review, a sub-committee of Council has developed a plan, called The Aurora Promenade, that sets out new and redevelopment for the coming years. More than 30 public meetings, open-houses and workshops were held to create the plan. It is anticipated that 2,930 additional residents will live along the Yonge and Wellington Street corridors, close to new major transportation systems being implemented by VIVA. The study is expected to stimulate new and redevelopment along both corridors in the coming years and to reinvigorate the Town's downtown core.
The Aurora Promenade Steering Committee is composed of: Mayor Phyllis Morris, Chair; Chris Ballard, Vice-Chair and Economic Development Advisory Committee representative; Judy Marshall — Aurora Chamber of Commerce; Andries Godschalk — Heritage Advisory Committee; Michael Levesque — Leisure Services Advisory Committee; and Kenneth Whitehurst — Arts and Culture Advisory Committee
The Official Plan review is to be presented to the public in early September for final comment, and go to Town Council in the Fall for final discussion and ratification.
The Aurora Public Library is located in the northeast corner of the intersection of Yonge Street and Church Street. A library was first established in Aurora in 1855, and was moved to the current location in 2001. The library is open all days of the week, but closed on Sundays and Mondays between May 17 and September 11, and between December 20 and January 2.
Major roads running through Aurora include Bathurst Street at its western border, Yonge Street, Bayview Avenue, Leslie Street, and Highway 404 at its eastern border and Bloomington Road at the southern border. Wellington Street is the town's major east-west road, with the Yonge-Wellington area having the busiest traffic volume in Aurora.
The town of Aurora's public transit is serviced by York Region Transit (YRT) and VIVA. The Aurora GO Station is on the Barrie line and is served by four trains southbound to Toronto each weekday morning and four trains northbound each afternoon, except holidays. GO buses provide hourly (or better) non-stop service to/from the Union Station Bus Terminal from early morning until late night. The Aurora GO Station is also served by five YRT bus routes.
Local media include The Banner (formerly the Era Banner) and The Auroran newspapers and Aurora programming provided by Rogers Cable (formerly Aurora Cable Internet).
Radio stations from Toronto are typically available, the same applies to the nearby towns of Newmarket, south into Richmond Hill, and Bradford.
^ "Aurora". Canadian Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. http://gnss.nrcan.gc.ca/gnss-srt/api?cgndbKey=FDJFO&output=html. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
^ "Community highlights for Aurora". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. 2007-03-13. http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/profiles/community/Details/Page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=CSD&Code1=3519046&Geo2=PR&Code2=35&Data=Count&SearchText=aurora&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=All&Custom=. Retrieved 2007-03-13.
^ a b c Town of Aurora Demographics and Income
^ Aurora, ON Population Info and rankings compare to other Canadian Cities
^ Town of Aurora
^ Ontario Heritage Trust media release
^ Aurora Cultural Centre
^ reportonbusiness.com: Stronach quitting politics for Magna
^ a b Aurora Cemetery
^ Find A Grave
^ Short History of Northeast Aurora