Monday, 13 November 2017

Toomas Karmo: DDO Conservation: Remarks in 2017-11-13 Town Council, as "Delegation"

Documents of interest to students of the David Dunlap Observatory and Park conservation file. Clockwise, from upper left: online developer promotion from, as visible in my Firefox on 2017-11-13; signboard developer promotion as noted at Major Mackenzie and Yonge around 2017-11-05; a mortgage agreement, under which the developer has in 2016 December borrowed, on the security of the 32 lost hectares, from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 135 million CAD, payable on demand (this is a public document, available from the Land Registry); a terrain map, ultimately derived many months ago from; online political promomotion from, as visible in my Firefox on 2017-11-13. - The map shows the lost 32 hectares (with streets and house lots drawn in), the conserved 5-hectare "DDO Panhandle lands" (as a long-and-thin parallelogram running south from the Trapezoid; the long sides of the parallelogram are aligned exactly north-south, whereas the four edges of the map rectangle run obliquely to the four cardinal directions, with north roughly on top), and the conserved 40-hectare "DDO Trapzoid" lands. The conserved "Trapezoid" portion is coloured in green. I have myself outlined in brown that part of the lost 32 hectares, comprising McMansion-style house lots, which is most egregious, and which I might reasonably have expected to save in sacrificing the bulk of my life savings when financing the Richmond Hill Naturalists' unsuccessful 2012 and 2014 Ontario Municipal Board appearances. It is this brown-outlined part that poses the greatest light-pollution threat to the three DDO telescopes (one of them being still the largest telescope on Canadian soil, and on the night of its 1935 First Light the second-largest in the world). - The online political promotion reads, in part, as follows: "A lifelong volunteer and community activist, Karen [sc Town Councillor Karen Cilevitz] served as Chair of the DDO Defenders for 6 years, leading this grassroots community advocacy group in protecting and conserving Richmond Hill’s iconic David Dunlap Observatory Campus and surrounding lands as a public legacy. Her dedicated work on the DDO file, and her work with residents and residents’ groups defending the Town against over-development, led Karen to run for public office. She prides herself as a steward of our natural environment  /.../". The asteroid named in her honour - asteroids are named for any essentially reason at all, by their discoverers, who can therefore confer on them names of friends, or associates, or whatever, pretty much at will - may be researched by Googling on the string 108382 Myke Wolf. (Myke Wolf made the discovery, He befriended Karen. His own legal position, including an allegation of personal name change, may be explored if necessary (I do not myself find this line of investigation strongly relevant to my own forensic work) by Googling on such things as the four-word string, with two pairs of quotation marks, "myke wolf" "parthenon technologies".) - Further legal or forensic background on my relations with the problematic pro-DDO-development Town Councillor Karen Cilevitz, and on my relations with the arguably misnamed "DDO Defenders", may be had from my server spaces and
Shots of a few of the fourteen or fifteen streets under development in the lost 32 David Dunlap Observatory and Park hectares. That greenspace is now becoming a subdivision of some 520 or 530 homes (with a few dozen extra units of housing now possibly also coming, as apartment add-ons above residential garages).  Anticlockwise from upper left: "Callisto Lane" (Callisto is the second-largest of Jupiter's moons); "Telescope Gate", and (what is especially objectionable to the many conservationists interested in light pollution) "Night Sky Court".

Web promotion for the three current principal non-government players in the David Dunlap Observatory and Park conservation case, as downloaded around UTC=20171114T1520Z to my Firefox. Clockwise, from bottom left: (1), (2), (3) - Regarding "(1)": I should have mentioned in my 2017-11-13 Town Council presentation (from podium, as "Delegation", with supporting letter reproduced below) that the Town is now moving in an appropriate direction, proposing in Staff Report SRCS.17.23 (available from, as an input document for the Council meeting of 2017-10-23) to make the laboratory-cum-workshop spaces of  DDO available to a local analogue, "YLab", of the Toronto-based Hacklab and the Kitchener-based Kwartzlab. To the best of my limited knowledge - I found out about YLab only on 2017-11-13, through a lamentable personal failure of curiosity - those spaces are now getting the right sort of tenant. - Regarding "(2)" and "(3)" jointly: It makes good sense to have the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) back at DDO, and now with the DDO Defenders (DDOD) as a partner. The "joint" in the DDOD Web page writeup, as reproduced here (my readers should enlarge the image with a mouse-click) is a testament to successful diplomacy by various individuals, in discussions to which I have not been privy. Yes, yes, yes, say I, applauding as an outsider, albeit as a member both of RASC and of DDOD: let there now be joint astronomical outreach at DDO, under the aegis not of one organization but of some plurality. - We may hope that in future, RASC and DDOD will be able also to say something jointly about the vexed question of DDO light pollution. In the page from the RASC server which I have chosen to display here, light pollution is discussed indeed, but without reference to the awkward fact that RASC's Toronto Centre promoted itself at DDO without ever, to my knowledge, uttering a single effective public word, from the 2008 DDO sale right up to the present day,  regarding the light-polluting effect of the subdivision now being erected on the lost 32 DDO hectares. Well, my fellow RASC members, now is the time for you to speak up, particularly since you are likely now free from the legal agreements you unwisely signed around 2009 with the developer (back then you unwisely became, in essence, the developer's tenant and the developer's public-relations asset): are you, like those of us who ponder light pollution, unhappy now about "Dark Sky Court", "Telescope Gate", and the like, as depicted in the second of tonight's three graphics? - DDOD was to the best of my knowledge similarly silent on the light-polluting damage of the subdivision from the 2012 Ontario Municipal Board settlement, which paved the way for a subdivision, right through 2016. Over that long period, the general line, the генеральная линия, at DDOD was that the OMB settlement was on balance a good thing, through having saved 45 of the 77 DDO greenspace hectares. To my mind, this was like arguing in some hypothetical Soviet human-rights case that Mr Yuri Andropov is kinda-sorta a Good Guy, since he has released, say, 45 out of 77 dissidents, while keeping only 32 in his big Permskaya Oblast gulag. - In 2017, DDOD did manage to speak up in the Council chamber on light pollution, albeit timidly: Karen Cilevitz's successor as DDOD head, Dr Ian Shelton, at that point expressed unease about the light-pollution effect of certain proposed add-on apartment units, to be perched (such was the developer's new proposal, to an upset Council-chamber public) atop already-approved residential garages. DDOD thereby took a step in the right direction,  even while saying nothing about the bigger light-pollution problems - for instance, the problem  marked in my brown outline upon the map in the lower right-hand corner of the first of tonight's three graphics.

Revision history:

All times in these blog "revision histories" are stated in UTC (Universal Coordinated Time/ Temps Universel Coordoné,  a precisification of the old GMT, or "Greenwich Mean Time"), in the ISO-prescribed YYYYMMDDThhmmZ timestamping format. UTC currently leads Toronto civil time by 5 hours and currently lags Tallinn civil time by 2 hours.
  • 20171118T0410Z/version 4.2.0: Kmo found to his distress that he had to repair another broken hyperlink, to the Town of Richmond Hill homepage,. - Kmo reserved the right to make further tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 72 hours, as here-undocumented versions 4.2.1, 4.2.2, 4.2.3, ... . 
  • 20171118T0404Z/version 4.1.0: Kmo repaired a broken hyperlink to the DDOD homepage, in the caption for one of his top-of-page graphics. - Kmo reserved the right to make further tiny, nonsubsantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 72 hours, as here-undocumented versions 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.1.3, ... .  
  • 20171114T0349Z/version 4.0.0: Kmo added a further graphic, regarding YLab, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), and the DDO Defenders (DDOD). He also added further and better particulars on his corrections of grammatical errors and typos, in his work at the Council podium, and made it clear that he had spoken to Council as "Delegation", rather (as he had been expecting before the event) in "Public Forum". - Kmo reserved the right to make further tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 4.0.1, 4.0.2, 4.0.3, ... .
  • 20171114T0305Z/version 3.1.0: Kmo made some additions of forensic or legal substance to his caption for the graphic showing case-relevant commercial and political promotion, in respect of Asteroid Cilevitz 108382.
  • 20171113T2248Z/version 3.0.0: Kmo added a further graphic, mainly showing commercial and political promotion pertinent to the conservation case. 
  • 20171113T2113Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo added a graphic showing streets under development in the lost 32 David Dunlap Observatory and Park hectares. 
  • 20171113T2124Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded the text of his letter to Mayor and Council, a little ahead of his normal upload schedule. (The upload would normally have been scheduled for around UTC=20171114T0001Z. But it was necessary for Kmo to travel to the Town offices in the one- or two-hour interval preceding UTC=20171114T0001Z.)

[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past months shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some 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. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity, at any rate when coupled with my erstwhile, out-of-date, Web-authoring uploading browser, to generate HTML that gets formatted in different ways on different downloading browsers. Some downloading browsers have sometimes perhaps not correctly read in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets" (CSS) which on all ordinary Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect CSS problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - Finally, there may be blogger vagaries, outside my control, in font sizing or interlinear spacing or right-margin justification. - Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me via]

[Some of my readers, especially conceivable readers in municipal or provincial or Canadian-federal decision-making circles, may find it helpful to have an upload of my letter to the Mayor and Council of the Town of Richmond Hill, as prepared for the 2017-11-13 "Public Forum" portion of the Town Council meeting. The letter is usefully read along with my many other earlier postings, on this same server, regarding the David Dunlap Observatory and Park heritage-conservation file. I have taken the liberty of tweaking my electronic *.pdf-format submission to the Clerks, made at UTC=20171113T1659Z, now correcting two or so small errors in grammar, and correcting roughly ten typos. Upon speaking from the podium, I submitted to the Clerks' table a hard copy of my letter, with my various grammatical and typographical corrections marked in blue ink, in case the municipality was retaining hardcopy files. - Readers seeking documentation, including audio and video, on public meetings involving Mayor and Council should click on the calendar icon] 

Submission by Toomas Karmo
for Town of Richmond Hill
Council Meeting of 2017-11-13,
for Inclusion in the Public Record 

The Town has kindly gone to trouble in advising me, in a preliminary way verbally on the evening of 2017-11-06, and then formally in an e-mail of 2017-11-07, that a revised version of SREIS.17.021 will be submitted to the next meeting of the DDO Park Project steering committee, early in 2018. I hope to report back to Council, either in Public Forum or as a Delegation, once that submission has been made by Commissioner Italo Brutto's team.


At this present 2017-11-13 meeting of Council, I must not so much repeat myself (by underscoring, as I just have, the importance of getting SREIS.17.021 right) as put onto the public record my concerns regarding a possible malign future path for DDO. I would urge both Town and taxpayers to maintain vigilance in the face of some looming threats.

Already we, the taxpayers, have lost 32 greenspace hectares to a developer, in a chain of events which has involved not only a skewed Ontario Municipal Board process in 2012 and 2014, but an outright  2017 July redrawing of Cultural Heritage Landscape boundaries. This adverse chain of events has undermined, perhaps fatally, our conceivable potential case for UNESCO World Heritage List designation. The UNESCO Paris adjudication would surely have to pay heavy regard to local enthusiasm, or lack of local enthusiasm, for conservation - at the David Dunlap Observatory and Park just as in the case of our close UNESCO World Heritage List parallel, the successful Joggins Fossil Cliffs case from Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. Whereas the people of Cumberland County could, and did, hold their heads high at Parks Canada and in Paris, this can no longer be said of the Town of Richmond Hill, and for the various elements in our community - here I direct specific attention to that opponent of full heritage conservation, Councillor Karen Cilevitz - who let our 32-hectare fiasco happen, and in the context of the closed-doors process which was a 2011-through-2012 OMB mediation even approved it.

If we are not vigilant now, the following further bad things may soon occur:
  • The developer may unfortunately (in my private, uninformed, opinion) try to follow through with the plan foreshadowed in its application or communication to the Town a couple of years ago - with the plan, namely, to establish a temporary subdivision sales centre in the Administration Building. Such a desecration of national scientific heritage would trigger a legal picket from me, as I have already on one or two previous occasions publicly warned. Picketing is legal insofar as it conveys information to the public without impeding public foot or vehicular traffic. In the event of a legal picket, everyone will suffer, with the Town's reputation taking a particular hit.
  • The circa-1865 Elms Lea mansion, or "DDO Director's House" - not mentioned, however briefly, in SREIS.17.021 - may unfortunately be put to something other than its now natural municipal use. The natural municipal use would be to support Richmond Hill heritage conservation in some way, optimally by becoming our Town's much-needed museum space. I would here remind the taxpaying public, and our Mayor and Council, that our current heritage centre on Church Street, worthy though it is, is too small to serve as a museum, and that our municipal historical artefacts are currently therefore housed out of public sight, in closed storage.
  • The Administration Building may, once renovated, unfortunately be put to something other than its now-natural municipal use. The natural use would be as housing for two things, and two only: (1) In its office space and auditorium space and library space, as housing for materials and activities supporting astronomical research (including citizen science) and astronomical outreach. (Under this heading would come the offices of some astronomical-outreach entity or entities, conceivably including the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, a recent strain in their diplomatic relations with the Town notwithstanding.) (2) In its wood-workshop, metal-workshop, optics-workshop, sometime photography-darkroom, and electronics-lab spaces, materials and activities supporting some York Region equivalent of the type of citizen technological innovation (important for Ontario's entrepreneurial development) and non-astronomical citizen science successfully pursued by Kwartzlab in Kitchener and by Hacklab in Toronto.

[End of letter submitted to Town of Richmond Hill;
end of blog posting.]  

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