Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Toomas Karmo: DDO&P: Open Letter to Advertising Standards Canada, with Municipality and Others

Revision history:

20161220T11702Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo published on this blog, having a few minutes earlier sent the same material in e-mail to Advertising Standards Canada (info@adstandards.com), with cc to himself and to clerks@richmondhill.ca, MPozzebon@metrusdev.com, info@observatoryhill.ca, dbronskill@goodmans.ca, officemayor@richmondhill.ca, vito.spatafora@richmondhill.ca, brenda.hogg@richmondhill.ca, greg@gregberos.com, tom.muench@richmondhill.ca, castro.liu@richmondhill.ca, david.west@richmondhill.ca, karen.cilevitz@richmondhill.ca, godwin.chan@richmondhill.ca, attorneygeneral@ontario.ca, tmcmeekin.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org, bmauro.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org, cballard.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org, premier@ontario.ca, rmoridi.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org, kmcgarry.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org, commissioner@eco.on.ca, david@donnellylaw.ca, anne@donnellylaw.ca, KZarzour@yrmg.com, newsroom@yrmg.com, ptyson@skyandtelescope.com, news@nowtoronto.com, editorial@torontolife.com, Newsroom@globeandmail.ca, city@thestar.ca. 

1. Background: Potentially Misleading Advertising by Subdivision Developer

The Ontario property developer DG Group (http://www.dggroup.ca/; but trading before 2015 April as Metrus Development) in 2008 created a subsidiary, Corsica Development Inc., for the purpose of building a subdivision on part of the former David Dunlap Observatory and Park lands in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Their subdivision was to be called "Observatory Hill". The envisaged subdivision is promoted, although not explicitly under the names of Corsica or DG Group, at http://observatoryhill.ca/ and http://myobservatoryhill.ca/

110 acres of the Observatory Hill project are now confirmed as destination green space in Richmond Hill and will be supported by a $54 million budget. 

In its first phase, the new plan will focus on general maintenance, but subsequent phases will introduce renovations to the David Dunlap Observatory, its beautiful administration building, plus the addition of exciting and interactive spaces like a skating trail, visitor centre, planetarium, tennis courts, and family-friendly picnic areas. /.../ 

I believe the published promotional material to be in the following respects inaccurate or misleading: 

  • The name "Observatory Hill" is attached to an envisaged 110-acre (45-hectare) municipal remnant park, which in fact is differently named, and is separate from (although adjacent to) the envisaged 32-hectare subdivision. 
  • The wording does not make it clear that the "$54 million" designated for the remnant park is public (i.e., taxpayer) money, rather than money put up by the developer. 
  • The wording presents a "planetarium" as a decided-upon feature of the remnant park, whereas the Town of Richmond Hill has indicated in its park-planning documentation only that it will be studying the possible eventual feasibility of building a planetarium. 

2. Possible Corrections

Something like the following would serve the interests of accuracy:

110 acres (45 hectares) of the remnant municipal park, conserved from the pre-2008 188- or 189-acre (77-hectare) David Dunlap Observatory and Park, are now confirmed as destination green space in Richmond Hill, and will be supported by a $54 million budgetary allocation from the Town of Richmond Hill. This conserved remnant park is adjacent to the projected 79-acre (32-hectare) Observatory Hill subdivision. 

In its first phase, the new Town of Richmond Hill remnant-park plan will focus on general maintenance. But subsequent phases will introduce renovations to the David Dunlap Observatory,  its beautiful administration building, plus the addition of exciting and interactive spaces. Current Town park planning envisages a skating trail, a visitor centre, tennis courts, and family-friendly picnic areas, and also envisages a feasibility study for a possible planetarium. 

3. Request for Action from Advertising Standards Canada

I request that Advertising Standards Canada acknowledge this communication from me and indicate what step(s) it is now able to take, working with the Corsica legal team. 

I am proposing to use my blog, http://toomaskarmo.blogspot.ca/, as a vehicle for keeping the public informed of my progress with the various authorities in this case, the most notable of these presently being Advertising Standards Canada. 

4. Request for Action from Town of Richmond Hill

I request that clerks@richmondhill.ca (a) acknowledge this communication from me, (b) confirm for me that the office of Clerks is forwarding my communication to the appropriate officer(s) within the Legal department of the Town, and (c) confirm for me that there will by 2017-03-31 be some followup communication from the Town to me regarding the appraised legality or illegality of Corsica's herein-quoted advertising.

APPENDIX: Disclosure of Personal Interest

(A) I was employed at the David Dunlap Observatory on a pair of concurrent part-time contracts, as telescope operator and as research assistant, from 2006 November to the end of 2008 June or the beginning of 2008 July.

(B) I largely financed, as a now-impoverished private donor, the subdivision-opposing work of the Richmond Hill Naturalists (http://www.rhnaturalists.ca) at the Ontario Municipal Board in 2012, at Divisional Court in 2013, and at the Ontario Municipal Board in 2014. 

(B) In the spring of 2014, I was threatened with legal action by municipal politician Karen Cilevitz - since the autumn of 2014, Town Councillor Cilevitz. Ms Cilevitz has since 2011 been a public supporter of the projected Corsica subdivision.  She and I settled out of court. Our casework is documented at http://www.karen-vs-toomas-blog.ca and http://www.karen-vs-toomas-legaldocs.ca/.

(D) I have blogged on the various aspects of the David Dunlap Observatory and Park heritage-conservation case at http://toomaskarmo.blogspot.ca:

  • 2016-11-28 or 2016-11-29, under heading "DDO&P Sewage-Works Stormwater Facility: Queries for Province and Town, and Suggestions for Residents"
  • 2016-11-25, under heading "DDO&P: Letter to Ontario's Ministry of Municipal Affairs, on OMB Reform" 
  • 2016-11-07 or 2016-11-08, under heading "USA Election, and Government Generally (DDO File as an Indicator)"
  • 2016-11-07 or 2016-11-08, under heading "Theology-of-Civic and DDO (Oak Ridges Moraine Aquifer Cap"
  • 2016-09-26 or 2016-09-27, under heading " DDO&P: Submission to Town Council"
  • 2016-09-19 or 2016-09-18, under heading "DDO&P: (A) Submission to C.O.W.; (B) RASC-TC communication"
  • 2016-09-12 or 2016-09-13, under heading "Minor DDO&P News: (1) Dr R.Chou Now Heads RASC-TC; (2) DND Memo Now Updated"
  • 2016-08-29 or 2016-08-30, under heading "Open Letter re DDO&P DND (Department of National Defence) Implications" 
My posting of 2016-08-29 or 2016-08-30 has a list of my earlier DDO&P-relevant blog postings. 

[End of communication.]

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