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U of T's Observatory Lands (Richmond Hill)

No shortage of suggestions for future use of observatory
Richmond Hill
Jun 03, 2008 01:05 PM

By: David Fleischer, Staff Writer
The future of the David Dunlap Observatory still hangs in the balance, but there is no lack of ambition for the potential of the 190-acres of land.

Two plans are in the works, one having been presented to council already and another soon to be unveiled.

View our David Dunlap Observatory Section for more on the story.

First out of the gate was the 74-page Observatory Park report prepared by Lord Cultural Services for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Toronto Centre chapter. It is a concept plan and business case for keeping the observatory alive as a public outreach facility.

Under the society’s plan, the centre would partner with organizations to create interactive educational programs and ensure the conservation and stewardship of the property.

Curriculum-based programs would be suitable for school groups with observing programs held day and night.

Concerned about shortcomings of the society’s plan, the DDO Defenders, an ad hoc group of local residents including the Richmond Hill Naturalists, are creating a Richmond Hill Plan for the observatory.

“The Richmond Hill Plan will be more inclusive and considers many aspects of the property,†Naturalists president Marianne Yake said.

“To facilitate continued research on the property, you have to protect the environment,†she said.

The DDO Defenders have expressed concerns about the society’s coming late to the game and dividing efforts to save the site, rather than working with them for a single, local solution.

Their consternation is noted in the Lord report’s conclusions, asking the astronomical society to determine what role they wish to play.

“I think our plans are very similar,†Denis Grey said, Observatory Park Working Group co-chairperson.

He agreed having land surrounding the observatory is crucial to its continued viability, but the society report is not as concerned with protecting specific boundaries as the Defenders’ plan.

With the report done, there is little more for the society to do right now, but that could change when the future becomes clearer.

“We’ll certainly make ourselves available if there is an astronomical future for the site,†Mr. Grey said.

Their plan is based upon the assumption that either the town will own the land or the owner will lease it to them for a nominal fee.

The society did its best to quickly complete a report that could have used more time, said co-chairperson Randy Attwood.

“The timing of this whole event has been a challenge for everyone,†he said.

The uncertainty of the land’s ownership was cited as the greatest challenge by Mr. Grey and Mr. Attwood.

In the meantime, Mr. Grey was pleased their consultants agreed there is still a future for the observatory.

“The potential is clearly there,†he said.

As for the Richmond Hill Plan, Ms Yake could not go into details, but said it will be released in the coming weeks.

“For me, it’s not just about the plan,†she said. “It’s about (University of Toronto’s) obligation to the community that served it for 75 years.â€

The University of Toronto put the site up for sale in November, saying a winning bid should be announced in March, with the sale closing in July.

The university has not yet announced a winning bid, but there are hints that could change as soon as this week.

The town has also asked the Ontario Conservation Review Board to advise them on designating at least 48 per cent of the site as a heritage site. A pre-hearing tele-conference is scheduled for June 26 with the actual hearing, open to the public, likely following in a month or two.

Who is bidding
The university’s bid process was confidential, but at least some information is known:

• The land was divided into a 177-acre Parcel A and a 12-acre Parcel B.

• Because a park and the Elvis Stojko Arena are located there, the Town of Richmond Hill bid on Parcel B, but received notification in March that its bid had failed.

• Tribute Communities confirmed it was initially in the bidding, dropping out for undisclosed reasons.

• TACC Construction president Silvio DeGasperis said public opposition to the project was enough to keep him out of the process.

• Metrus representatives declined to comment on the matter.

• With land in Richmond Hill going for as much as $600,000 an acre, the entire site, north of 16th Avenue between Yonge Street and Bayview Avenue, could be worth $100 million or more.

• Officials from Menkes did not return repeated calls before press time.
University has buyer for Dunlap Observatory lands
David Fleischer, Staff Writer
Published on Jul 02, 2008

The David Dunlap Observatory and its telescope are on the auction block, but residents fighting to preserve the property haven’t given up.

The end is at hand for the David Dunlap Observatory, with a buyer ready to seal the deal.

“We have a firm agreement from one buyer, but (the sale is) not yet closed,†University of Toronto spokesperson Rob Steiner said.

Mr. Steiner could not disclose the sale price or the name of the buyer but said, “the closed deal should be before the end of this month.â€

For more on the story, visit our David Dunlap Observatory section.

Visitors arrived at the site on Wednesday to find security guards at the gates. The site is still open to the public but is being prepped for its final divestment, Mr. Steiner said.

“The premise of this close is that we’ll be delivering the site to (the buyer) as a vacant site. People who are working there will no longer be working there and any stuff we will be moving will be moved,†Mr. Steiner said.

Public tours concluded last month and researchers were waiting to find out when the final day of their work would be. That day has arrived.

“There are a number of folks up there who will continue their employment with the University of Toronto, but there are a couple of folks whose employment is very site specific, and they got notice (Wednesday).â€

One such person was telescope operator Heide DeBond, who took a surprise call from astronomy faculty chairperson Peter Martin yesterday.

She was told operations are ceasing immediately and she had until her next work day, Sunday, to collect her personal items.

“It was totally and completely unexpected,†Ms DeBond said, the shock clear in her voice.

The seven-year employee moved out of the observatory’s gatehouse last week.

“It’s not just that I lost my job but, in the long run, what this means to Canadian culture and history and what it means for Canadian science in the future,†she said.

Employees hoped research would continue until August, when their contracts end, but a clause allowed the university to pre-empt that, she said.

That did not make the suddenness of the blow any easier to take.

Ms DeBond was recently introduced as the chairperson of the Astronats astronomy club and she said that effort will continue.

“We will keep astronomy in Richmond Hill,†she said.

Those fighting to save the site were similarly adamant that its legacy not be lost.

“This is a very sad day for the people of Ontario and, in particular, the people in the Region of York,†DDO Defenders steering committee member Karen Cilevitz said.

“The site meets the cultural, scientific and natural criteria to make it not only a provincial heritage site, but also a national and UNESCO World Heritage Site,†Ms Cilevitz said.

The Richmond Hill Naturalists, with whom the defenders are affiliated, are preparing to argue, before a provincial conservation review board, that the entire site should be protected. The board is set to hold a pre-hearing in August but could be delayed at the request of the new owner. A hearing set for June 26 was already delayed by request of the university, saying they needed more time to review the town’s plans.

For the purposes of the sale, the land was partitioned into a 177-acre Parcel A and a 12-acre Parcel B, upon which the Elvis Stojko Arena sits. But there is a single buyer for the entire 190-acre site, Mr. Steiner confirmed.

The town of Richmond Hill bid on Parcel B but were rebuffed.

When U of T’s governing council put the site up for sale in October, 2007, they set July 1 as the date by which they intended to close the sale.

Pleas to extend the deadline — by town officials, observatory researchers and even MP Bryon Wilfert — fell on deaf ears.

The observatory site was donated, in trust, to the university by David Dunlap’s widow, Jessie in 1932.

After years of negotiations, the three Dunlap heirs signed a confidential deal with the university, giving them the land.

Proceeds of the sale will go to the creation of a David Dunlap Institute of Astronomy on the St. George Campus, in downtown Toronto.
This whole thing has a rotten smell to it. I never would have expected it from the U of T.
This troubles me to no end as well. Where else in the GTA can you see deer grazing contentedly near a major four-lane road? I just hope there will be enough public outrage that they will keep some, or preferable most of the site as woodland. If not, time to prepare the cocktails, Molotov style.
We're still not sure if it has been sold...

at least, it appears the deal has not closed yet.

Despite all of the press, U of T has still not announced that the property has been sold on their own website.

Supposedly half the funds (According to the Star, half will go to the Dunlap family) are supposed to be invested in the new "Dunlap Institute", but you will find very little mention of that entity on the U of T website.

The Richmond Hill Naturalists are concerned about the material being taken out of the Observatory buildings. The place deserves to become a working museum of Canadian Astronomy -- sitting on a conservation area.

There are plenty of good photos of the buildings and the property, but this one gives a good view of the Admin building from the Dome.
I'm sure some compromise will happen where a small park around the old buildings will be created and the rest of the site will be developed into housing and smart centres etc. Such a compromise I believe will, while seeming to be reasonable, represent a complete failure of vision and understanding not only for the town of Richmond Hill, but set a precedent of stupidity for the entire GTA. The legacy of the proceeds of the sale say at 100 million (going to a public institution I may add) will pale in comparison to the value of retaining open space in an urban environment.
DDO bought by Metrus

The sale price was quite a bit lower than earlier estimates. Too bad the Town of Richmond Hill could not convince the province to work out a deal to buy this property for the public.

When this thing began in Jan 2007, U of T created a Real Estate Advisory Board to "assist the University of Toronto in evaluating real estate opportunities and strategic directions". See Link.

One of the people on the committee was Mr. E. M. Blake Hutcheson, President of CB Richard Ellis Limited -- the firm that brokered the bargain deal with Metrus. I wonder what the commission was?

After the Dunlap family get their cut and U of T begins charging the Dunlap Institute for rent and infrastructure, I wonder how much of the endowment will be left for "cutting edge astronomy".

As a citizen and taxpayer, I think this deal stinks -- the public should have been given a chance to buy the property -- but I would welcome other opinions from this group.

Metrus Announces Purchase of Dunlap Lands from the University of Toronto

Pledges to "protect and respect" heritage; will seek proposals to keep
observatory operating; U of T to invest funds in new astronomy and
astrophysics institute

RICHMOND HILL, ON, July 28 /CNW/ - Metrus Development is pleased to
announce the purchase of the 190 acre David Dunlap lands in Richmond Hill from
the University of Toronto.
"With this announcement, we are pleased to become stewards of a unique
and historical site on which we intend to protect the significant buildings,
encourage ongoing science and, in due course, propose development that will
respect its heritage," says Metrus Vice President, Fraser Nelson.
Nelson adds that Metrus "fully understands and appreciates" the
significance of the Dunlap property.
"We have been a responsible corporate citizen of Richmond Hill for over
25 years. Like other citizens, we value and respect these lands," says Nelson.
Metrus will ensure that the historic observatory and its telescope, the
stone administration building dating from 1935 and the Alexander Marsh
farmhouse dating from the 1850s will all remain intact, regardless of whether
they are ever officially designated by the Conservation Review Board, which
has yet to hold hearings on the matter.
Nelson also says that Metrus intends "to encourage ongoing science and
learning" by seeking proposals from qualified astronomers and/or clubs to keep
the observatory and its telescope funded and running.
Nelson notes that Metrus has no current plans for development of the
"No development can or will occur on the property until development
approvals are obtained and water and sewer allocation is available. Any
development that does eventually occur will be respectful of the heritage of
the site, on which the observatory, the administration building and the farm
house will continue to exist," concludes Nelson.
The sale, brokered by Michael Czestochowski of CB Richard Ellis Limited,
will generate $70 million. The University of Toronto's proceeds from the sale
will be endowed in perpetuity to support the recently established Dunlap
Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics -- continuing the legacy of the 1930s
gift made by Jessie Dunlap in memory of her husband, David.
U of T's new Dunlap Institute will focus on research, teaching, advanced
training and public outreach in astronomy and astrophysics. Through this
effort, U of T will further advance Toronto's current standing as a world
leader in astronomy and astrophysics. The Institute will also help develop
scientific instrumentation for world class observatories and foster major
national and international research collaborations.
"The Dunlap Institute will build on Toronto's leadership in astronomy and
astrophysics in the 21st century in the way that the Dunlap Observatory did in
the 20th century," says Meric Gertler, Interim Dean of Arts and Science at the
University of Toronto. "We are glad to know that Metrus will honour the
observatory's past even as we honour the Dunlap family's legacy for the


Metrus is an acknowledged leader in development and property management
in Ontario. As a family-owned corporation, it has earned the trust of clients
and customers for its dedicated, hands-on approach to the success of each of
its projects. Metrus takes a long-term view of customer satisfaction that has
spelled success for 35 years.


The University of Toronto has assembled one of the strongest research and
teaching faculties in North America, presenting top students at all levels
with a learning environment unmatched in breadth and depth on any other
Canadian campus.
U of T faculty co-author more research articles than their colleagues at
any North American university other than Harvard. They are also among the most
highly cited researchers in North America -- consistently ranking alongside
the top five U.S. universities -- and are widely recognized for their teaching
U of T students can craft intimate learning communities within a unique
undergraduate college system, and participate in more than 1000 clubs and
sports teams.
Established in 1827, the University of Toronto today operates in downtown
Toronto, Mississauga and Scarborough, as well as in ten renowned academic

For further information: Contact, for Metrus: Jim Maclean, (416)
919-4319; Contact, for the University of Toronto: Robert Steiner, Assistant
Vice President, Strategic Communications, (416) 978-0100
They wrapped up the CRB hearing for this today and it sounds like it'll be at least a couple of months before there's any "ruling" from them.

Also sounds like there was at least a bit of drama... Hill/article/87094

Bombshell letter derails Dunlap hearing
By David Fleischer, Staff Writer
Published on Jan 22, 2009

The Minister of Culture could have preserved the Dunlap Observatory site’s entirety with the stroke of her pen, according to newly-released information.
A letter sent by Ontario Heritage Trust chairperson and former Lt.-Gov. Lincoln Alexander to Culture Minister Aileen Carroll in September, recommends the province take immediate action to declare the site’s main 177 acres a heritage site.
That would mean if designated by the minister, no alterations to the property would be allowed without her consent.
“Without question, this site is a property of cultural heritage value or interest of provincial significance. The Board of Directors of the Ontario Heritage Trust recommends that you take immediate action to intervene,†a copy of the letter obtained by reads.
It came to light during during some highly charged testimony at Wednesday’s Conservation Review Board hearing.
The letter was released via a freedom of information request last week and the Richmond Hill Naturalists subpoenaed Sean Fraser, the Trust’s manager of acquisitions and conservation services to testify about it.
The session was extended into the evening and he did not begin his testimony until after 8 p.m. Mr. Fraser spoke about the assistance provided to the town in getting the site designated.
Testimony ground to a halt however, when Naturalists lawyer Ian Lord sprang the unseen letter and other lawyers objected.
Proceedings were suspended while lawyers conferred with the board chairpersons in their chambers.
“Not only was it not presented in a fair way but in reviewing the material . . . we see some things we think would be inflammatory for this inquiry,†board chairperson Peter Zakarow said afterwards.
The letter was not accepted as evidence and will not impact upon their recommendation of what Richmond Hill should include in its designating by-law.
Mr. Lord pressed on with his questioning touching indirectly on the Trust’s position.
“This site possesses a cultural heritage landscape,†Mr. Fraser said. “It possesses buildings of architectural value (and) other aspects of culture are represented here.â€
In his letter, Mr. Alexander describes the site’s features and history and says that rather than forcing the town to fight off development requests, and endure the board hearing now under way, the minister should take action now.
The letter was received by the minister’s office on Sept. 23, long before the start of the hearing, which convened last Thursday and concludes Friday.
Its goal is to recommend how much of the site should be preserved, even though we now know an agency of the ministry already voiced a strong opinion on the matter.
“No matter the outcome of the CRB’s deliberations...we are of the opinion that in relation to this site the province should demonstrate pro-actively its leadership...this is not simply a local issue,†Mr. Alexander wrote.
He made three recommendations, none of which the minister acted upon.
They include an order for immediate designation, issuing a stop order so issues can be considered and engaging a facilitator to identify the best solution.
The power of ministerial designation was introduced in 2005 as one of several moves to strengthen the Heritage Act.
Minister Carroll would not comment while the board’s deliberations continue, but spokesperson Sarah Petrevan said she is following the case closely and did not simply ignore the recommendations.
“It’s not that those recommendations aren’t important and it’s not that we don’t pay attention to them. It’s just that there is a process we need to go through first,†she said.
While Mr. Alexander’s letter implies the minister could overrule or preclude a board recommendation, Ms Carroll will wait to hear what they have to say.
“The minister holds the advice of the Heritage Trust in very high regard,†Ms Petrevan said of how much weight is given to their suggestions.
“The decision to provincially designate a heritage property involves many considerations . . . the decision about whether to designate or not designate isn’t an easy one and we need to respect the powers of the local decision makers.â€
The trust is a provincial agency which manges and protects properties of significant heritage. They own 24 built sites and 140 natural sites across the province, including the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres in Toronto and properties along the Bruce Trail and in the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Section 7 of the Heritage Act gives them the power to make recommendations to the minister and manage and acquire property.
The letter’s revelations of strong provincial interest in the site would seem a blow to Metrus, who paid $70 million for the site, half of which is an interest-free mortgage, in July.
On the other hand, it validates the claims of those who have testified that more than just a local park, the site is of provincial, national and even international stature.
A reply sent by the minister in December remains in camera and is subject to another freedom of information request filed last week.
The freedom of information request was filed in December and a group of amateur and professional astronomers became suspicious when a January meeting with a ministry official was abruptly canceled.
Fighting the case has cost the two involved citizens groups tens of thousands of dollars.
Richmond Hill taxpayers and Metrus are paying extensive legal fees of their own.
About 80% of the site is likely to get heritage designation. We'll have to see what that means for actual development...

By David Fleischer and Adam Mc Lean
In a Solomonic judgement, the province’s Conservation Review Board has ruled while the entire David Dunlap Observatory site may not be worthy of heritage designation, the vast majority of it is.

“It could be argued that few sites across the province warrant provincial involvement more than the DDO site,†the ruling states.

“The board believes that the DDO precinct ...represents an exceptional example of Ontario’s cultural heritage,†wrote board members Peter Zarakow and Karen Haslam in their 61-page decision issued late Thursday.

The report is not binding but rather offers advice to the town in drafting its bylaw describing what comprises the site’s cultural heritage landscape.


The board’s decision can also be considered a blow to developer Metrus, the site’s owner, which has plans for extensive residential development.

However, the board disagreed with the Richmond Hill Naturalists and Observatory Hill Homeowners Association that the entire 190-acre site should be protected, but asked the town to go further than their stated position of protecting the site’s western half.

The board found no reason to support a proposal by Metrus to protect a small area, surrounding only the three main buildings: the observatory dome, the Administration Building and the Elm’s Lea farmhouse.

“Such a plan would lead to encroachment and thus a dilution of the integrity of the significant cultural heritage value or interest of the property,†the ruling read.


In endorsing the town’s position and asking them to go further, the decision seems to be a victory for Richmond Hill, but no one is jumping to conclusions.

“The report is lengthy and quite complex. We need to go through the document with a fine-toothed comb, but the brief glimpse I have had was encouraging and shows that the town was on the right track,†acting mayor Vito Spatafora said.

“We need to come to a complete and thorough understanding before we can fully examine any conclusion or what this recommendation could mean as far as future development,†planning commissioner Ana Bassios said.

With the province standing behind them, it is now up to the town to conserve the site and protect it from development, Naturalists president Marianne Yake said.

“The owner knew when they acquired the property that there was cultural and historic significance on this site,†she said.

While the rejection of Metrus’ proposal can be seen as a blow to their development plans, project manager Michael Pozzebon said all the parties and the board agreed the three buildings were the heart of the site.

“It shouldn’t be misconstrued as saying something it doesn’t,†he said of the report. “The heritage designation doesn’t prevent a future land use from occurring.â€

Metrus has to take the heritage into consideration, but it’s something the company was going to do anyway, he said.

“The appropriate uses for these lands are going to be determined through the town’s planning process and this is an additional layer we have to consider,†he said.

“The CRB did a great job and we were happy to see that they pushed beyond what the town had recommended and expected,†said Renu Duggal who tried to represent both her Observatory Hill neighbourhood, and the citizens of Richmond Hill at the hearing.

“Now we must wait for council to step up and create a bylaw to protect the outlined land so no development will occur now or in the future,†she said.

The DDO Defenders, a community group who supported the Naturalists, were similarly pleased the board understood the site’s significance and said the fight isn’t over yet.

“This is only the beginning. The fight now goes straight to the town council,†steering committee member Karen Cilevitz said.

While the CRB has spoken, Ms Cilevitz her group still want to see protection of the remaining lands.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is a development-free zone,†Ms Cilevitz said.


The decision excludes elements the Naturalists argued were significant including a gate house, pump house and several outlying tree plantations.

However, the gate house is within the defined geographical district, as is Donalda Drive that leads to the observatory from Hillsview Drive.

Within the excluded lands are springs and a marsh area which were not found to have heritage significance but which still could garner other protection.

While the Ontario Heritage Act only protects items affixed to the property, the Naturalists argued that items removed from the observatory — including custom-made furniture and papers — should remain.

The board found those items were the personal property of the University of Toronto and beyond the scope of their mandate.

Council should apply common sense and do proper work, on an item by item basis, to identify what should be included in their heritage description, the report said.


Though it was not part of the hearing, the board also dealt with the 12-acre panhandle stretching down from the main site towards 16th Avenue.

The lands house a park and the Elvis Stojko Arena and while they were not part of the original land donation by the Dunlaps to the University of Toronto, they were purchased to create a southern entrance to the site which was never developed.

Given the important associations with the observatory to the north, the board recommended council acknowledge its heritage value and conduct an analysis of its future.


Richmond Hill, however, did an exceptional job moving quickly after the university announced it was selling the site, the report states.

“That does not mean the province cannot participate more actively ...While a situation of ‘double designation’ is rare this is likely a property that supports such a contemplation,†they said.

The CRB heard arguments during a seven-day hearing in January.

The Ministry of Culture is still reviewing the report and Minister Aileen Carroll will comment at a later date, spokesperson Sarah Petrevan said.

“We look forward to hearing the decision Richmond Hill’s town council will make in response to the CRB’s recommendation,†she said.

The report is not binding. Rather, it serves as advice to Richmond Hill which is expected to draft a heritage protection bylaw.

It can also do archeological and other studies to further assess the site.

The ball will then be in Metrus’ court to file a development application. If denied by the town, they can then appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Mr. Pozzebon could not comment on a time frame for an application but implied it was not imminent.

You can read the entire report at
'Aggressive' housing plan received for observatory lands Hill/article/102495
January 29, 2010 04:56 PM


At least one Richmond Hill councillor is dismayed by the "extremely ambitious and extremely aggressive" development application submitted by the owners of the David Dunlap Observatory lands.
"This application has little to no regard for the heritage and cultural landscapes we are attempting to celebrate and preserve," Regional Councillor Brenda said. "It looks like a subdivision plan for Mississauga. It looks like the whole thing has been paved."

The application for a total of 833 units on the 189.9 acres was submitted Tuesday morning, one day after council approved its conservation plan for the former University of Toronto property.

The town plan had been formulated over four months in an attempt to protect the controversial site against an expected development application and likely hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

Ever since the property was sold by the university for $70 million to the land developer in July 2008, the question for town staff and councillors was not so much if Metrus would submit a development application, but rather when.

"When" came Tuesday morning.

Notice about the application and reaction to it was provided to The Liberal by Regional Councillor Brenda Hogg Thursday.

Ms Hogg called Metrus' blueprint for development shocking, when compared to town development scenarios and especially in light of last year's provincial conservation review board hearing, that aimed to conserve the land's natural and cultural heritage.

"It's a good thing we have some key principles in place that we can work from at an OMB hearing," she added.

The town's key principles disappointed environmentalists who have long lobbied the town to say no to any development. The same principles were coolly received by Metrus officials, who evidently were hoping to expand the amount of land the town suggested could be developed.

But, it is these principles that Ms Hogg states could save much of the green space in coming years.

"I respect people like Marianne Yake (Richmond Hill Naturalists president) as a neighbour and I respect the amount of effort and work she has contributed, but you don't go into a gun fight with nothing but good intentions," Ms Hogg said.

"If we could have done a park, we would have. We have reached out to the provincial and federal governments numerous times for help and received nothing back. I still live in the hope that they will step up, but this application is extremely ambitious and extremely aggressive. Corsica is a land developer and they are not gifting land. Residents should know that," Ms Hogg added.

Requests from the media and environmental groups to see or receive a copy of the development application were rejected by town officials, saying council and staff must look at it before any documents become public.

Marianne Yake feverishly attempted to see the documents Friday morning.

"I hear it's bad," she commented.

"If it has been submitted to the town it is in the public realm, so we should also be able to see it," a frustrated Ms Yake added.

In an e-mail to the The Liberal Friday morning, Metrus Observatory Hill project manager Michael Pozzebon noted that in the company's opinion, the submitted plan is in accordance with conservation and management principles endorsed by the town.

"All of the cultural heritage attributes have been appropriately conserved in their current settings, and an extensive natural heritage system will be preserved," he told The Liberal.

"The master environmental servicing plan document provided site-specific information that was crucial in the formulation of our plan. We have been working on our studies since we acquired the site in July of 2008," he concluded.
The ideal solution: 6-8 story brownstone apartments lining the entire site's perimeter.
They definitely could go for a 21st century Central Park feel with that area. It'd keep the greenspace, let developers do some building, and would increase the town's population considerably while expanding the high-density zone. The remaining land should remain pretty much the same, maybe with some more trees planted or turn some of the current open space into parks (soccer fields and the like.) I was also thinking it might be a good opportunity to build a Planetarium, to keep with the Astronomy theme from the observatory.

I really, really hope this doesn't get turned over to developers into more subdivisions. Either the town forces them to do something like build some high density in a smaller space in the area, or they buy all the land away from the developers and keep it like it is.
" Regional Councillor Brenda said: 'It looks like a subdivision plan for Mississauga.'"

You know, because subdivision plans for Richmond Hill are not at all in the same vein.

Well, Richmond Hill is TRYING to do something different.
I don't see the point slamming a councillor for saying, "We don't want a subdivision like Mississauga's."

The entire point is they're trying to do something more modern, particularly on this site. I mean, she's saying she doesn't like the sprawl in their development proposal - so she's a hypocrite?

You can see the town's planning principles for the site here and it's no surprise Metrus has bigger plans.
It didn't please those who want to see 100% of the site left as parkland but practically speaking it preserves a lot of the greenspace and viewscapes.
This thing will be in for a long OMB battle any way you slice it.