Monday, 29 August 2016

Toomas Karmo (=VA3KMZ): Open Letter re DDO&P DND (Department of National Defence) Implications

This map, ultimately from materials published by the Town of Richmond Hill in a hyperlink tree rooted at, documents the 72-hectare David Dunlap Observatory and Park (DDO&P) "Trapezoid" and the 5-hectare DDO&P "Panhandle". The "Panhandle" (in white) is to become part of the envisaged approximately 45-hectare rump park. The remaining approximately 40 hectares of the rump park is that part of the Trapezoid which is here coloured green. Also shown is the envisaged, but to many of us entirely unacceptable,  approximately 32-hectare subdivision (with its lane, its 14 streets, its stormwater sump, and its 520-plus homes). The northern edge of the Trapezoid, along Hillsview Drive, is around 1.2 km long. The Trapezoid is bounded on the east by Bayview Avenue and on the west by the CNR "Bala Subdivision" line. This is a line with some DND relevance, but now most prominent in the public mind as the GO commuter line, running on about 30 km of not-quite-straight railbed to Toronto Union Station. (As the crow flies, the distance is more like 20 km.)  Yonge Street lies a little west of the railway, about 1 km to the west of the Panhandle.

Quality assessment: 

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:

  • 20160912T1810Z/version 2.1.0: Kmo added points on Toronto-Ottawa landline and Toronto-Ottawa satellite links, and on the suitability of the DDO Administration Building roof for solar-panel arrays, and on the ability of the USSR to run a large radio installation without trimming back too much woodland. He reserved the right to upload minor, cosmetic and nonsubstantive, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3, ... . 
  • 20160830T0122Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo finished uploading a reasonably polished version, and accordingly deleted his point-outline material. He reserved the right to upload minor, cosmetic and nonsubstantive, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.0.1, 2.0.2, 2.0.3, ... . 
  • 20160830T0001Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version, unfortunately in part merely in point-outline form. He resolved to polish things adequately by 20160830T0401Z. 

[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.]

0. Background

Some of my readers, particularly at the Department of National Defence (DND), will be unfamiliar with the David Dunlap Observatory and Park (DDO&P) land-conservation file.

I have blogged on this file extensively in the last month and a half, as follows: 

  • on 2016-08-22 or 2016-08-23, under the title "Open Letter re DDO&P Breach-of-Aquifer Question (Town et al)" 
  • on 2016-08-15 or 2016-08-16, under the title "Failure of 2016-08-14 Archdiocese-Outreach Effort (Pertinent to DDO&P Conservation)"
  • on 2016-08-15 or 2016-08-16, under the title "Failure of 2016-08-14 Muzzo-Outreach Effort (Pertinent to DDO&P Conservation)"
  • on 2016-08-15 or 2016-08-16, under the title "RASC-TC Leadership Change, and Further RASC-TC Statement on DDO&P"
  • on 2016-08-08 or 2016-08-09, under the title "Muzzo-family/Toomas Conciliation Project (DDO&P and Convict)"
  • on 2016-08-08 or 2016-08-09, under the title "DDO&P Karen-and-Toomas Reconciliation Project"
  • on 2016-08-08 or 2016-08-09, under the title "Commentary on Useful RASC-TC Editorial on DDO&P Conservation Case"
  • on 2016-08-01 or 2016-08-02, under the title "Open Letter re DDO&P to Town Council, Addressing the 2016-07-29 Concerns of Councillor Karen Cilevitz " (but fortunately the comments by Councillor Cilevitz, arguably inconsistent with the Municipal Code of Conduct in its call for Councillors to be courteous toward the public, have since been removed - I presume by her - from her Facebook page) 
  • on 2016-07-25 or 2016-07-25, under the title "Open Letter re DDO&P to Muzzo and DeGasperis Families, and Others"
  • on 2016-07-22, under the title "CIVIC EMERGENCY: RASC Pulls out of DDO 2016 September"

The posting of 2016-07-22 incorporates, under the section heading "1. Background to the 2016-07-22 RASC Crisis", a full set of descriptive references to my earlier DDO&P-pertinent blog postings. I do here apologize for not having had the time to set up a proper indexing formalism for If time were to permit, I would have to create a hyperlink index of all my principal blog topics, imitating the model of Sister Laurel O'Neil at Sister O'Neil's right-hand column, some distance down her page, is headed "Labels". Here are given appropriate subject references, running from such alphabetically early headings as "Abba John Colobos" and "Abuses of Canon 603" all the way down to such alphabetically late headings as "white martyrdom" and "wordliness". 

1. Update:
Ongoing Oak Ridges Moraine Aquifer Cap Investigation

Before today embarking on my main DDO&P topic, I should give a short update on my topic from 2016-08-22 or 2016-08-23, the "Open Letter re DDO&P Breach-of-Aquifer Question (Town et al)". 


As of UTC=20160829T2131Z, I had no information from the Town regarding its state of knowledge on the physical integrity of the aquifer cap. The Town had, however, assured me at the end of the previous week that it was working on a reply, and that it would contact me once it had consulted an appropriate member of its Staff. This official was due back from holiday by 2016-08-29. I for my part thanked the Town for their constructive communication, remarking that I had directed a parallel enquiry to Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, noting to the Town that the Ministry undertakes to answer queries in 15 days, and stressing to the Town that accuracy in our aquifer-cap question is preferable to speed. 

2. Fresh Considerations: DDO&P and the Department of National Defence

2.1: Background Regarding Greater-Toronto-Area Resilience

From (the Aurora Banner, 2012-03-23, under headline "Aurora house holds secret") one can see the alarmingly modest scale of Cold War efforts for the civil defence of Toronto. In an era in which the United Kingdom had rudimentary UKWMO ("Warning and Monitoring Organization") bunkers across the country, in at least many instances at some such tight spacing as 20 kilometres, it rather appears that Toronto civil defence was to be coordinated from a single Aurora bunker, at 220 Old Yonge Street. The bunker possessed a (surely inadequate) hundred or so phone lines, plus a map room and assorted minor auxiliaries.

The 220 Old Yonge property has at some point subsequent to 2012 been put up for sale. Whether a buyer has been found I do not know.

My experience in Melbourne civil defence, as an early-1980s volunteer in the State Emergency Service (under the Government of Victoria) suggests a similarly modest scale of disaster preparation in Australia.

The Toronto and Melbourne examples are to be contrasted not only with Cold-War-era UKWMO, but still more tellingly with Switzerland. Perhaps it was in part because Switzerland was serious about civil defence in the two troubled decades following World War I that it managed to avoid Austria's sad 1938 fate.


Disaster scenarios are, admittedly, different now from what planners faced in the eras of Anschluss and Cold War. The immediately plausible threats are no longer of a self-evidently extreme character. if we leave the most dramatic of the various possibilities aside today (therefore today staying silent about, in particular, a possible repeat of the Carrington Event, as discussed at and, then two special vulnerabilities suggest themselves:
  • there could be a repeat of the 2003-08-14 blackout, for instance in winter, under the stress of some region-wide ice storm paralleling the storms of 1998 January and 2013 December
  • there could be an Internet degradation, for instance from military or terrorist hostilities occurring far outside Canada
DND will have performed some risk appraisals in connection with at least the second of these two scenarios.  Although I cannot for my part claim to be at all well read, I nevertheless do offer the following scenario points here (subject to correction, either by DND itself or by competent others): 

  • The worldwide Domain Name Service (DNS) root name servers - one, no doubt physically distributed over multiple machines,  governs URL-to-and-from-IP-address translation for the entire *.com domain; another does this job for the entire *.ca domain; a third does this job for the entire *.uk domain; and so on  - are a point of Internet vulnerability. They indeed have been asserted (whether accurately or inaccurately, I do not know)  to have already, in some recent year, come under attack. 
  • The DNS root-level servers aside, DNS is vulnerable from a conceivable subversion of the Network Time Protocol. The problem here is that routers are, for compelling engineering reasons, barred from updating their routing tables in the event of chronometry inconsistencies.
  • Toronto has in past years (I was told this by an appropriate professional around 2000 or 2005) had essentially one single Internet chokepoint - i.e., one single building, the loss of which would isolate Toronto from the world's Internet backbones. 
  • If this single chokepoint has since that time been replaced with multiple chokepoints, the number of such present chokepoints at any rate cannot, for compelling reasons of engineering and economics, be large. 
The two vulnerabilities are not guaranteed to be independent. 

On the one hand, a grid failure has Internet implications - notably when the backup systems for routers fade away, with their diesel generator fuel running out or their battery banks running down. 

And conversely, an Internet degradation may in turn affect the "SCADA" control systems in power stations, triggering a collapse of the grid. - I was given an assurance to the contrary by a professor some years ago at the Royal Canadian Institute, in a Sunday-afternoon lecture series. But I am now reluctant to believe him. If the Internet and the grid are decoupled, as the professor cheerfully asserted when I approached him at post-lecture mix-and-mingle time, then how (I now ask) has it been possible for USA SCADA (or similar) power-plant systems to be remotely hacked? 

2.2: General National-Resilience Implications of Radio

Governments planning for continuity of operations need VHF/UHF radio at all levels. This much they have probably had since soon after the Hitler war. Indeed I believe that some thought has even been given to VHF/UHF disaster planning at the humbler, mere university level: I think a friend of mine has to some degree raised the question of VHF/UHF links for coordinating, in a situation where Internet and grid (and of course landline and cellular telephone)  fail, the disaster-recovery efforts of the University of Toronto downtown, Mississauga, and Scarborough campuses.

Something else, however, is needed too. And this is a thing easily overlooked.

Disaster planning requires attention to radio  links beyond the VHF/UHF horizon, i.e., to distances in excess of (nominally) 50 kilometres. How, in a disaster degrading the Internet, can Toronto-based municipal, provincial, and federal authorities be guaranteed links with over-the-horizon Kingston and Windsor? And how, above all, can they be guaranteed links with Ottawa?

It would be foolish to rely on chains of VHF/UHF repeater stations, with communications handled through intricate sequences of relay points. The only robust solutions over Ontario distances, now even as before the Hitler war, lie in the HF ("high-frequency", "shortwave") regime - or still lower, in the MF ("medium-frequency", including and flanking the AM broadcast band) regime; or lower again, in the exotic marine-relevant LF ("low-frequency") regime.

Admittedly, there is likely to be a government emergency land-line link, whether in fiber or in copper, between Toronto and Ottawa, separate from the commercial telecommunications infrastructure. But here we run into the same problem of a repeater-station chain as besets long-haul VHF/UHF.

The Victorians ran telegraph copper all the way across the Atlantic seabed without repeaters. In compensation, however, they had to endure an impossibly low bandwidth, permitting them on the order of 10 just words per minute. At faster speeds, the dots and dashes in their Morse blurred together. What the modern copper-engineering tradeoff is between high bandwidth and paucity of repeaters I do not know.  For fiber optics, we have of course bandwidth adequate for government needs - data, voice, and more -  but at the high price of a repeater every 100 kilometres or so.

Additionally, landline is vulnerable to sabotage, and to seismic events.

One hopes that government has, apart from dedicated Toronto-Ottawa landline, a dedicated Toronto-Ottawa satellite link.  However, satellite, too, has its vulnerabilities, as in military and solar-storm scenarios. For satellites in lowish, rather than in geosynchronous, orbits, there is also the emerging "space junk"  vulnerability:

For HF and below, the principal vulnerabilities are jamming (but this is nowadays addressed, if it has to be addressed, through burst transmission technology), and Sun-driven ionospheric disturbance. As one goes to lower and lower frequencies, and therefore to longer and longer wavelengths, reliability of communications in the face of ionospheric disturbance increases.

HF is conventionally defined as extending from 3 MHz to 30 MHz. The less distance-capable VHF runs from 30 to 300 MHz, with 300 MHz marking the lower boundary of UHF.

Perhaps governments can at present operate with only a minor HF capability. In future decades, however, as Canada's security situation deteriorates under the twin impacts of climate change and fossil-fuels shortfalls, more will be needed. The principal operational HF-or-lower requirement in the troubled 2020s, or at any rate in the troubled 2030s, 2040s, 2050s, and beyond, will be the high-gain antenna farm, with appropriate directionality. Such antenna farms, with their feedlines and transmitters and receivers, are appropriately located at the edges of Canadian cities. From the suburban HF-or-lower rigs, VHF/UHF links can be run down into the actual urban nuclei of government - in Toronto's case into the Premier's offices beside the University of Toronto downtown campus; into downtown police headquarters; and into the existing Toronto-based Emergency Operations Centre, with its existing radio desks. The result would be that communications could be established between a Toronto nucleus of government and some corresponding nucleus in, say, Ottawa with just three hops: from the Premier's office (e.g.) on VHF/UHF, out to the HF-or-lower setup, with its antenna farm, in the Toronto suburbs; then out on, say, an HF wavelength of around 40 metres or 80 metres to a corresponding HF antenna farm in the Ottawa suburbs; and then on down, with VHF/UHF, to some appropriate situation room housing the Federal cabinet.

Amateurs using HF get by with antenna farms of a rather modest scale. At the University of Toronto Hart House Amateur Radio Club, around 2005 or 2010, I worked two-way Morse with the USA, and on a few happy occasions also with Europe, on that glorified copper clothesline which is the dipole. For government, however, more is needed, on a physical scale no longer modest. The 40-mere dipole, appropriate for telegraphing Europe on just over 7.0 MHz, is physically about 20 metres long, and so could fit (in its for-us-optimal north-south orientation, for strong east-west response) onto the Hart House roof.

In government, however, reliability is paramount. To get through at the appropriate times of day even with a balky ionosphere, officials need something like the log-periodic, the "curtain", or the rhombic design.

For concreteness, let us take the rhombic. At we find the suggestion that for the 40-metre amateur band (a good choice for Toronto-to-Ukraine in the evening, and for Toronto-to-Ottawa in the morning), "414 feet" is an appropriate overall length. In SI units, to two significant figures, this becomes 130 metres.

But government will surely also want to transmit on a wavelength close to the 80-metre (circa 3.5-MHz) ham band. That would for its part require an antenna farm about 260 metres across at its widest point, i.e., along the major diagonal of the rhombus.

There might additionally be some need for robust government transmissions on a wavelength close to the amateur 160-metre band (in other words, around 1.8 MHz). In that daunting case, the major diagonal of the four-mast rhombus would have to stretch to a length of around 520 metres. (Does one perhaps at this point add intermediate, insulated, masts, to keep the long runs of horizontal wire from snapping under their own weight? Or does one abandon rhombic for curtain - or for some beaming configuration, optimally over watery ground, of vertical-antenna masts?)

2.3: DDO&P Implications of National-Resilience Radio

These HF (or, if we want also something close to the 160-metre ham band, even MF) arrangements are  perhaps not too difficult in Ottawa. One Ottawa possibility is an old federal facility, the Experimental Farm. And I know from direct inspection that there is plenty of open farming country around the notorious old Cold War "Diefenbunker", municipally within Ottawa boundaries, and in fact in rural Carp, near the blink-and-you-have-missed-it hamlet of Kinburn.

In Toronto, the task becomes harder. An open site is needed, 20 or so kilometres outside the immediate prospective downtown blast-and-infestation zone (ensuring that the HF capability stays up even if downtown administration is destroyed), and yet not blocked from downtown Toronto by any significant hills.

In our problematic built-up environment, DDO&P proves perhaps the best site available.

Admittedly, some thought will have to be given also to the University of Toronto Mississauga and Scarborough campuses, with their open spaces, and to the various facilities - there is one even in outlying King City - of Environment Canada.

With DDO&P, at any rate, we have a wide terrain, allowing an abundant spread of multiple rhombics for multiple frequencies and multiple beam directions, and space to spare for such possible further requisites as a heliport.

Conveniently also, DDO&P is bounded by a passenger railway and a principal traffic artery (many-lane Bayview Avenue), and is just an easy walk away from Yonge Street.

Additionally, DDO&P offers something perhaps not available elsewhere, namely a heavy masonry structure with free lab space.  In the DDO Administration Building basement are three big rooms which over the period 1935/2008 respectively served as a woodworking shop, as an optics shop, and as a metal-machining shop. On the upper floor of the Administration Building is an erstwhile photographic darkroom, whose multiple large sinks could be repurposed for life science - notably in a time of pandemic, or of other regional biohazard. Adjacent to the erstwhile darkroom are two large rooms, each capable of accommodating lab benches for 5 or 10 workers.

The most important asset from a DND-radio perspective, however, is the electronics lab, on this same upstairs level. Around the lab runs an abundance of shelving or cabinet space, appropriate for a busy electronics-repair facility. In the centre of the room is a long two-sided bench, topped in slate for soldering, and with space for 6 - or even for 10 or 12 - individual soldering stations.

There remains space in this big room for some to-me-indeterminate number of desks. Admittedly, desk space is available also in a set of conventional offices on the same (upper) floor, and in a similar set of conventional offices on the ground floor.

The Administration Building roof, apart from three telescope domes, is flat, and communicates with lower floors by staircase rather than by utility ladder. These architectural features would benefit personnel installing or maintaining photovoltaic arrays.

A planning scenario now suggests itself. I offer it as a possible point of departure for DND analysts working in concert with Parks Canada, with the Province, and with the Town of Richmond Hill:
  • DND embarks on discussions with the would-be DDO developer, DG Group (formerly Metrus) subsidiary Corsica. DND points out that an acquisition would relieve the developer of its growing public-relations embarrassment, while at the same time serving the national interest over coming decades. 
  • DND acquires the prospective 32-hectare subdivision land on fair terms from the developer, conceivably in a land-swap context. 
  • DND does as little as possible with the land in the short term, mindful of the imperative to minimize peacetime defence expenditure. In the short term, DND welcomes citizen groupings to undertake the slow, hard work of reforestation.
  • DND puts into place legal machinery ensuring that in an emerging national crisis, it can with the full cooperation of the Town of Richmond Hill erect any necessary antenna farm on its 32-hectare terrain, and if necessary even put radio installations onto the 45-hectare Town-of-Richmond-Hill rump park, and can erect any needed outbuildings on its 32-hectare terrain, and can requisition any needed lab and solar-panel space in and on the DDO Administration Building. (In general, the erection of a rhombic requires some trimming in whatever forest may in future be present, and yet  - so I conjecture, subject to correction - is unlikely to require a wholesale clear-cut. My discussions with an ex-Soviet specialist, " Mr/Miss/Mrs DEF", this summer are instructive. Mr/Miss/Mrs DEF had seen what was perhaps the principal long-distance HF jamming facility of the USSR, used rather unsuccessfully by the USSR authorities to try to block reception of VOA, BBC, Radio Free Europe, and the like by the USSR citizens. Although this malign transmitter installation radiated far more power than any Canadian government could want for its Toronto-Ottawa link, the scrub forest - the ground was swampy, and so that Siberian scrub included birch - was left rather largely intact.) DND and the Town are in making these contingency plans guided by the precedent set in the Hitler war, in which DND as a DDO on-the-grounds guest carried out research into magnetism (in some such field as the degaussing of naval vessels, as a precaution against magnetic mines) - housing its then personnel, in fact, in what was later to become a DDO building, the extant 1960s-onwards "Radio Shack". 

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