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Richmond Hill is now one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, with a large and multicultural population. It had 162,704 residents according to the 2006 Census, representing 23% growth from the 2001 Census which was more than four times the Canadian average during that period. Among the forty seven Canadian census subdivisions with populations over 100 000, only Brampton, Vaughan, Whitby, Markham and Barrie had faster growth rates. In 2001, the town had been recognized as the fasting growing "large" municipality in Canada by Statistics Canada. The town's population is projected to exceed 200,000 by the year 2015.
Richmond Hill is a comparatively wealthy community. The average household income was $100 900 in 2003, which was 34% higher than the Canadian average that year, and 26% higher than the Ontario average. The 1990s and 2000s are a period of strong economic growth for Richmond Hill; In 1999 industrial, commercial and institutional growth was valued at $88.9 million, up from $67.9 million in 1998. The economic growth of 1999 won the town's economic development department three provincial awards from the Economic Developers Council of Ontario. The border between Richmond Hill and Markham is a rapidly growing area for information technology and high-tech industry with over 1000 such businesses located along their border in 2000.
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., 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
The York Region District School Board operates 25 public elementary schools in Richmond Hill, with 5 additional elementary schools in the planning stage. It also operates 5 secondary schools in Richmond Hill: Alexander Mackenzie High School, Bayview Secondary School, Langstaff Secondary School, Richmond Green Secondary School and Richmond Hill High School. Published reviews of the school system rate it favourably. Students in schools in the York Region District School Board have scored above the provincial average on the Assessment of Reading, Writing and Mathematics, Primary Division (Grades 1-3) and Junior Division (Grades 4-6) since their introduction in 2002. The board's students in academic math streams have performed above the provincial average on the Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics every year since its inception in 2002, while those in applied math streams were below the provincial average in 2002-2005, and above the provincial average from 2005-2007. A Fraser Institute report rated Richmond Hill High School as providing the best education among public high schools in Ontario in 2001.
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.
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.
Mill Pond is a park located in the southern region of Richmond Hill. It is based around an old mill pond, hence the name Mill Pond. The park has numerous trails and is home to a variety of wildlife species such as swans, beavers and snakes. The park is used to host a multitude of town events ranging from a winter carnival to concerts and flower shows. Every year, the pond is home to the Richmond Hill Winter Carnival.
Oak Ridges is a largely residential area in northern Richmond Hill, which was amalgamated into the town in 1971.
"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 equal numbers of churches and 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. Most of the "Adult Only" stores are now closed and are replaced by more civic-oriented structures. In 2007, the former "Fantasia" property was 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.
Construction of a new theatre in the town's downtown core. It will open in the fall of 2008.
The town of Richmond Hill is very well serviced in terms of transportation facilities for a community of its size. The eastern border of the town is Highway 404, a major highway which leads directly into the downtown core of the City of Toronto via the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) followed by the Gardiner Expressway. It also intersects Highway 401 which is one of the most traversed highways on the planet and is the principal east/west route in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The town's southern border is defined by the former Highway 7 and a parallel expressway, Highway 407. The latter is a toll route (the only currently existing in the province) and was designed as a bypass for the 401. The combined effect of these highways ensures that Richmond Hill is well integrated into Ontario's road network and has easy access for all road vehicles. It is worth noting that the ease of accessing the town is threatened by increasing traffic due to growth in the region as the resulting exhaustive commutes (sometimes several hours in the winter) greatly diminish the usefulness of the road network.
Public transit within the town of Richmond Hill is on buses co-ordinated by York Region Transit (YRT). In September 2005, YRT unveiled a new rapid transit initiative entitled VIVA which provides enhanced bus service on major routes using vehicles capable of speeding up traffic lights to lessen the time they idle. YRT also operates several feeder routes on secondary streets in the town. While reaction to the VIVA program has been very positive and the funding provided considerable, there hasn't been as large an increase in commuter use as was hoped. Commuter train service is provided to the town by GO Transit on the Richmond Hill line with two stations in the town, Richmond Hill Station and Langstaff Station. Langstaff Station is near the new Richmond Hill Centre Terminal of York Region Transit at Highway 7 and Yonge Street, but is not connected to it (a pedestrian bridge over the railway tracks is currently being built and is expected to be completed by December 2007).
Richmond Hill is minimally serviced by other modes of transportation. Its landlocked situation inhibits any water transportation and it lacks an airport of its own, though it does border on Markham's Buttonville Airport.
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