Monday, 22 August 2016

Toomas Karmo: Open Letter re DDO&P Breach-of-Aquifer Question (Town et al)

My cellphone photo from Bayview Avenue from a bus window in the (very dry) afternoon of 2016-08-10, showing a part of the despoiled 32 DDO&P hectares, in the vicinity of the projected stormwater sump. The Town and other authorities will have to consider whether there has been a breach of the Oak Ridges Moraine Aquifer cap, in a scenario feared in the Ontario Municipal Board 2012 and 2014 testimony of hydrogeologist Mr Garry Hunter. Visible in the background is some of the remaining forest, slated to become a rump park in the possession of the Town.

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3'5 is "mediocre pass", 4.5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: Kmo had time to do a reasonably complete and (within the framework of the version 1.0.1, 1.0.2, .. process) reasonably polished job. 


Revision history:

  • UTC=20160823T0001Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version. He retained the right to make nonsubstantive tweaks, as here-undoumented versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2, 1.0.3, ... , over the coming 48 hours .  - He drew this blog posting to the notice of pertinent authorities, mainly municipal, provincial, and federal, in a private e-mail under timestamp UTC= 20160823T231357Z.

[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger software has in some past weeks shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some late points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears.]

1. Preamble, with Legal Background

I write with a question for the Town of Richmond Hill, pertaining to what has in recent years been Canada's weightiest heritage-conservation case, the 77-hectare David Dunlap Observatory and Park (DDO&P). 

In writing, I cc other involved parties. 

Foremost among these others are (a) the provincial and federal authorities, and (b) the team of the would-be DDO&P developer (who seeks to build 14 streets, a lane, and a stormwater sump, with 520-plus homes, thereby destroying about 32 of the total 77 hectares). 

I write as a 2006 November through 2008 June DDO staffer. 

I write at a time of increased activity in my DDO&P file, as already noted by many of my readers earlier this month, in a private e-mail headed "20160810T155131Z". It is helpful to recall the pertinent part of that e-mail today. On 206-08-04, I was notified through Canada Post, by Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner, that the desire of the Regional Municipality of York would be granted: I would, as a Freedom-of-Information applicant, be given all my requested paperwork regarding the aspiring developer's archaeology and tree-removal permits. In this 2016-08-04 paper communication, I was reassuringly told that an objection lodged by some unspecified third party was now being dismissed, as an unsuccessful appeal. With the appeal duly out of the way, I expect the pertinent documents to arrive in papermail in mid-September. As I noted in that e-mail headed "20160810T155131Z", I will upon receipt of the documents be able to proceed further with my analysis of the developer's legal position. 


I note for everyone, today as in essence also on previous occasions, the following further points of legal background: 

  • I have spent the bulk of my life savings on this DDO&P conservationist casework, to an amount of 500,000 CAD or 550,000 CAD - for the most part at two long Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearings, in 2012 and 2014, in support of the Richmond Hill Naturalists. 
  • I am now accordingly too poor to justify the expense of a lawyer. 
  • I am prepared to defend myself in court, speaking without a lawyer, if sued or prosecuted. 
  • I use the Web, notably (also known as as a vehicle for making the details of the DDO&P case publicly visible. I do this in part as a precaution against a nightmare scenario, in which my mild autism renders me temporarily tongue-tied or temporarily panic-stricken when I reluctantly undertake my own advocacy in the courtroom. 

2. DDO&P Hydrogeological Background

The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act (2001) accords partial protection to the environmentally sensitive Moraine. (The sensitivity is in part due to the fact that from the Moraine originate the Humber, Don, and Rouge rivers, all running from the Moraine down into the Lake Ontario that provides Toronto with drinking water.) If the map at delineating the Moraine is accurate, then the DDO&P northern boundary lies something less than 10 kilometres (perhaps 4 kilometres or 6?) south of the Moraine's southern limit. It therefore seems to me that the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act (2001) does not directly govern DDO&P. I am anxious, however, to be corrected regarding my understanding of the Act, by the Government of Ontario, if I am mistaken. 

The Act is not the end of the story. 

Running under DDO&P is the Oak Ridges Moraine Aquifer (ORMA). Hydrogeologist Mr Gary Hunter testified at OMB in 2012 and 2014, as an expert witness summoned by my friends the Richmond Hill Naturalists, that there was some risk of the envisaged subdivision-development activity at DDO&P breaching the ORMA cap. All analysts of the case must, therefore, keep a sharp eye on the terrain, as the developer proceeds with excavation of the envisaged stormwater sump (in land-planning language, with the envisaged "stormwater management pond") and with related engineering works. 

Fortunately, monitoring is easy, since the sump and its surrounds are visible from Bayview Avenue. 

The July and early August of 2016 were unusually dry. This, then, presented good conditions for monitoring the possible upwelling of groundwater, such as might conceivably come from some kind of injury to the ORMA cap. In the afternoon of 2016-08-10, two or three or so days before the long dry spell ended, I took six photos of the ongoing engineering works, from a bus. Three of these show water. Of the three, I attach one to this present e-mail, displaying it also in the posting of this e-mail in the above-cited blog.  

3. Question for the Town

I now make the following formal query of the Town, trusting that as I am trying to serve the public interest nobody will be very angry with me. I make my query as part of my effort to understand the legal case: 

  • Is the ORMA cap either (a.a) known by the Town to be injured or (a.b) known by the Town to be not injured? Or is it, rather, the case that (b) the Town does not presently know the status of the ORMA cap - i.e., does not presently know it to be injured, and does not presently know it to be not injured? 

I respectfully ask the Town to respond in e-mail by 2016-08-29 (MON) 14:00 EDT (i.e., by UTC=20160829T1800Z), either (1.1) with a direct answer to this query or (1.2) with a request to be allowed more time to pursue any necessary investigations, and optionally also (2) with any additional commentary or elucidation for me that the Town may at this point consider proper. 

I will take it, unless instructed otherwise, that the Town's upcoming e-mail communication to me is fully public. By "fully public" I mean here that I am free to paraphrase it in my above-cited blog, and to quote it there in part or in whole, and to make any other reasonable use of it (for instance, to forward it to more senior levels of government, or to forward it to environmental-advocacy organizations). 

I would additionally welcome any pertinent e-mail comments from anyone else, and most notably from

  • Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Ontario's Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
  • Ontario's Environmental Commissioner 
  • the developer's team (which I presume, unless advised otherwise, still to be under Mr Michael Pozzebon, at the DG Group (formerly Metrus) subsidiary "Corsica") 

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