Monday, 19 September 2016

Toomas Karmo: DDO&P: (A) Submission to C.O.W.; (B) RASC-TC communication

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"): 3/5. Justification: Kmo did not have time to make as many points as would be desirable: a lot will have to be done in upcoming Parts E and, as it now appears, F. He did manage (within the framework of the version 1.0.1, 1.0.2, .. process) to do a reasonably polished job. 

Revision history:

  • 20160919T1940Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version He reserved the right to upload minor (i.e., cosmetic, as opposed to substantive) tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2, 1.0.3, ... .  

[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.]

(A) Submission to Town of Richmond Hill
Committee-of-the-Whole 2016-09-19 Meeting

I submitted the following to the Town of Richmond Hill Committee of the Whole meeting scheduled for 2016-09-19 (MON) afternoon, enlisting myself also as a solo speaker in what our Town's administration calls a "Delegation". Full particulars on the meeting are at

I will have to blog on this again, somehow, next week, when that meeting is past, and when perhaps a meeting of Council as opposed to Committee-of-the-Whole is impending. 

In the normal cycle of Town business, matters are first aired by the Mayor and all the Councillors at Committee of the Whole, without motions being voted on. One week later, there normally follows a discussion in Council, with the formal taking of votes on formal motions. 

The organization to which I refer in connection with Dr Ian Shelton is the somewhat misleadingly named "David Dunlap Observatory Defenders". This grouping, which I founded late in 2007 but whose doors were later in essence closed to me, signed onto the 2012 Ontario Municipal Board subdivision-on-32-hectares Minutes of Settlement. 

0. Preamble

Thank you, Mr Mayor and Council, for this opportunity to speak. 

In the five minutes available to me today, I will not dwell on the heritage-conservation fiasco which is the loss, to the "Corsica" subsidiary of DG Group (formerly Metrus), of 32 greenspace hectares out of the DDO&P 77-hectare total. I will not dwell on my ongoing attempt to undo this 32-hectare loss, through a possible fresh federal idea involving the Department of National Defence, in a conceivable context of citizen-led reforestation. I will not dwell on my ongoing inquiry into the integrity within the threatened 32 hectares of the Oak Ridges Moraine Aquifer cap. (This is a matter on which I await communications on the one hand from the Town and on the other hand from Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.) I will not dwell on my now-successful Freedom of Information probe into the developer's tree-felling and archaeology permit work, which should be resulting in the Canada Post delivery of about 68 documentation pages to me later this September. For all these points on which I do not today dwell, I refer you to past postings at my

Today I address only the DDO rump-park visioning Staff Report from Planning and Regulatory Services, SRPRS.16.064 and the Staff Report from Community Services, SRCS.16.30. 

1. SRPRS.16.064

You have before you a recommendation that  the Janet Rosenberg and Studio 2016 April rump-park report, comprising Appendix A of SRPRS.16.064, be accepted. I concur. In concurring, I note with approbation that the Rosenberg rump-park report correctly refrains from denigrating the ongoing astrophysical research capability of DDO: the report in the version before us is commendably careful to state only, in terse and commendably neutral terms, that "increasing light pollution and new technical advancements elsewhere eventually led the University to focus its research through other facilities".

I do, however, respectfully suggest that in your discussion this afternoon you collectively underscore the importance of getting an accurate cost figure for repairs to the Great Dome and the Administration Building. As I have in past months remarked to the Town, the figure offered in Rosenberg the rump-park report, in the 3- or 4-million dollar bracket, conflicts with the deferred-maintenance bill in the approximately 10-million-dollar bracket offered by Prof. Tom Bolton, when he testified under oath at the 2012 Ontario Municipal Board as an expert witness called by my friends the Richmond Hill Naturalists. 

2.   SRCS.16.30

I call on Mayor and Council to make a verbal correction: where SRCS.16.30 in its present wording has "York Region Astronomical Association". What is actually legally correct is "York Region Astronomy Association". 

I also call on Mayor and Council to consider whether it is right to continue granting exclusive use of DDO to any one organization, as was unfortunately the case with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Toronto Centre (RASC-TC) over the period from 2009 through 2016. We have seen two unhappy scenes played out at DDO, under the inappropriate 2009-2016 RASC-TC monopoly - a RASC-TC leader literally chasing an executive member of the David Dunlap Observatory Defenders into the woods; and on another occasion, RASC-TC turning two members of the DDO Defenders, at least one of them on the executive, away on a public tour night, in an unfriendly or even menacing tone. Whatever is now decided regarding DDO, we must see to it that such things - here I recall also my own interruption by RASC-TC heckling in this Chamber on one tense evening some years ago - never get repeated.  

In a fully correct set of decisions on DDO, the principle of non-exclusivity will not only be affirmed, but will be coupled with an affirmation of "Citizen Science". We need more than the DDO weekend educational outreach offered by RASC from 2009 through 2016, and offered up to 2008 by many of us in the DDO astrophysics family, from night to night in our capacities as tour-guide "Dome Speaker" or as tour-guide (with auditorium lecture) "Chief". We need also a programme of research - to take one example, a citizen-science programme of binary-star eclipse timings, under the possible aegis of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, perhaps in one of the two half-metre-class Administration Building telescopes, under the possible guidance of some doctorally qualified Principal Investigator such as Richmond Hill's Ian Shelton. - I add here that in recommending Dr Shelton's participation, I deal with his organization at correct arm's length: I have not yet canvassed him on Citizen Science or SRCS.16.30, and as always I dissent from this misleadingly named organization's signing on to the destruction of 32 greenspace hectares. 

I congratulate the authors of SRCS.16.30 in their invoking a core civic value, in their announcing or requesting "/.../ an open and  transparent approach to partnership development through the procurement process /../". 

I conclude today's remarks by making my own (small) contribution to transparency, by communicating my own (scanty) information on the York Region Astronomy Association, and on related points. 

The database at indicates that YRAA was registered as a corporate entity on 2016-08-08. The database gives also a few other particulars, including a Richmond Hill street address. 

The various e-mails I receive as a member of RASC-TC have not mentioned YRAA. 

YRAA held a first meeting (which I unfortunately missed) on the evening of 2016-09-16 (FRI), in the York Regional Police station at 171 Major Mackenzie Drive West. 

YRAA has a Web site at Oddly, however, the site is now without content, and has in the (recent?) past had some content: a Google search retrieves the past content fragment 

Members of the York Region
Astronomy Association want to continue to build on
seven years of 
success at the David Dunlap Observatory, maintaining, 

(with nothing shown by Google beyond that final comma). 

Prominent in DDO outreach, and in RASC astronomy outreach,  and in astronomy outreach at the Richmond Hill Public Library, and therefore possibly connected with the emerging YRAA intiative, and in any case of interest to Town Staff in the context of SRCS.16.30, is amateur astronomer Chris Vaughan. 

I have not yet attempted any communications with Mr Vaughan. 

At,  Mr Vaughan promotes what purport to be ongoing tours at DDO. From this same server he disseminates a brochure, under filename astrogeo_brochure_october_13_2014.pdf, promoting DDO tours under his leadership. 

A quick research of Mr Vaughan's background, via LinkedIn, is on the whole encouraging: he holds a 1982 University of Toronto four-year B.Sc. in geology and physics (what in the terminology of other universities would be called "Joint Honours in Geology and Physics"), with additionally an astrophysics minor; and while lacking an astrophysics research record, he nevertheless holds three awards of an astronomy-outreach or amateur-astronomy character,  from RASC-TC, and one from RASC at the national, as opposed to Toronto, level. 

(B) Communication Received from RASC-TC,
Advising of the 2016-09-19 Meeting 

Requests to speak as Delegation, and documents for circulation in Committee of the Whole, are required by 12:00 noon on the day of meeting. 

I put my own request in on the Friday before the meeting. I made my own written submission around 11:59. 

At 10:25, I received, as a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Toronto Centre (RASC-TC), an e-mail, which I should report here (quoting in part, within the limits governed by the "Fair Use" doctrine in copyright law; I use italics here for all and only the material I quote). 

The mail notes that RASC-TC's governing board will be making a written submission and  that members of the board will attend as observers. 

RASC-TC advises that it will be clarifying its position and path forward, as it does not believe the description of the negotiations in the RH staff report accurately reflects its intentions, nor that its spirit was represented in the negotiation process. 

RASC-TC advises  that its board will also communicate its disappointment with the written description that the negotiations were seemingly not conducted in a manner that put the RASC TC Council's true intentions or interests first, and its surprise that another group was seemingly involved in the discussions.

RASC-TC advises that its board will submit a clarification request that the "History of the Site" in the Introduction of the Master Plan document be updated to more accurately reflect RASC TC's historical and more recent involvement in the DDO, which has been excluded from the timeline in the document.

RASC-TC invites its members to participate in this municipal process, whether by observing the meeting in person, by observing it in Internet live-streaming, by making written submissions, or by speaking from the podium. RASC-TC concludes with a remark that I as an occasionally critical member of RASC-TC find constructive and encouraging:  members are encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions on this and all RASC TC matters.

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