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Unsubstantiated Report About the DDO

(April 16)

The DDO Defenders have been involved in the OMB hearing regarding the David Dunlap Observatory from the very beginning. The organization is a signatory to the Minutes of Settlement along with Corsica and the Town of Richmond Hill. Pursuant to Section 12 of that settlement, Corsica has agreed to continue discussions with the Town regarding the potential acquisition or option to acquire the observatory buildings by the Town or another public agency.

The DDO Defenders have not been consulted regarding the possible acquisition of the DDO buildings by RASC. Neither are we aware of any approval or consent by the Town. We are seeking additional information regarding the veracity of the RASC press release and will comment further once we have more information. The DDO Defenders expect all parties to the Minutes of Settlement to abide by their obligations and will consider appropriate legal action if it appears that any terms have been breached.

Below is the text of the relevant section of the Minutes of Settlement...

"The Town and Corsica agree following execution of these Minutes of Settlement to continue discussions regarding the on-going preservation, use and maintenance of the lands described in Section 8(f), as significant cultural heritage properties within the Town, including the possible conveyance, or option to acquire, the said lands to the Town, or other public agency, and the possibility of an endowment for long term preservation and on terms that would be acceptable to the Town and Corsica, acting reasonably. Corsica further acknowledges and agrees that as long as it or any successor in title shall retain the aforesaid cultural heritage properties in private ownership it shall apply best efforts in consultation with a properly qualified heritage consultant as may be required to maintain and repair the said buildings, structures and associated landscaped areas in good condition and perform periodic maintenance, including carrying out any inspections and subsequent maintenance and repair as may be required acting reasonably to ensure the on-going preservation of the cultural heritage attributes of the said properties. For the purpose of complying with this provision, the Town and Corsica shall conform with the requirements of the Town's heritage designation By-law No. 100-09, the Town's approved Conservation Management Plan for the David Dunlap Observatory and the Town's property standards By-law No. 86-10 (Municipal Code Chapter 1010). The Town covenants and agrees to work cooperatively with Corsica in securing all necessary approvals or permits that may be required by Corsica or its successors in title, from time to time, for the purpose of carrying out any required maintenance."

--Ian Shelton, DDOD Chair

The David Dunlap Observatory lies nestled in the heart of Richmond Hill, Ontario, a city of 200,000 just north of Canada's largest city, Toronto. The 190-acre oasis of mature forests, pastures and springs is home to two distinct deer herds and an abundance of other wildlife, including a coyote pack, foxes, voles, rabbits, honey bees, many species of butterflies, and birds including hawks, owls, doves, crows and songbirds. The property represents the last and largest urban open green space in southern Richmond Hill.


Originally deeded to the University of Toronto by the philanthropist Jessie Donalda Dunlap in memory of her husband David, the Dunlap Observatory opened on May 31st, 1935. Its magnificent 74-inch telescope was the second largest in the world at that time and has been used through seven decades to conduct much groundbreaking research, including the discovery of the first known black hole, Cygnus X-1.

In 2007, the University of Toronto wrested control of the land from Jessie Dunlap's heirs through a protracted legal case spanning 4 years. They then broke the public covenant that the land would remain a park and a research and outreach centre in perpetuity by selling the property to a developer intent on replacing most of the greenspace with hundreds of houses.

The DDO Defenders have been working hard to represent the public and inform all levels of government about what will be lost if the developer is allowed to proceed.


On April 12th, 2012, after six long and anxiety-ridden months of Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) mandated mediation following a four year hard-fought and very public battle, an agreement was reached in March between the mediation parties to the David Dunlap Observatory Lands OMB case.

Minutes of Settlement were drawn up for signing by all parties to the mediation -- the landowner, Corsica Development Inc. (a subsidiary of MetrusDevelopments Inc.), the Town of Richmond Hill, the Region of York, the Toronto and Area Conservation Authority (TRCA), and the David Dunlap Observatory Defenders (DDO Defenders) Inc. This historic document was ratified by Richmond Hill Town Council on Thursday, April 12th. All mediation parties had been sworn to absolute secrecy under a strict gag order until Council signed off on the agreement, but now the silence has finally been broken and the details of the settlement agreement can be made public. (read more)

For further information or to offer support, please contact:

Ian Shelton - Chair, DDO Defenders Inc.
sn87a@hotmail.com or (905) 762-0072

The Minutes of Settlement is posted at the Town of Richmond Hill - DDO webpage.


Please support our Community Advocacy

The DDO Defenders are deeply committed to preserving the David Dunlap Observatory, surrounding Lands and the Dunlap Legacy. Our mandate is to ensure that the campus continues to operate as a world-class astronomical and astrophysical research facility and a centre of excellence in public Outreach, Education and Experiential Learning regarding all aspects of Science and the Natural World.

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DDO Defenders
240 Bantry Avenue
Richmond Hill, ON
Canada L4B 4H9.

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Call us at (905) 762-0072