Town buys part of observatory lands for $19.5 million
The Town of Richmond Hill has bought the “panhandle” section of the David Dunlap Observatory land for $19.5 million.
The town purchased the 12.1 acres of parkland directly from Corsica Development Inc., which owns the rest of the property. The money came from the town’s cash-in-lieu-of-parkland reserve and will not affect property taxes, said Ward 6 councillor Godwin Chan. It fulfills one condition of the Dunlap Settlement Agreement drafted between the town, landowner and residents before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) that will see Richmond Hill buying 111 acres in total.
“We’re one step closer with 12.1 acres by October in the Town of Richmond Hill’s hands, with more to come, like the 99 other acres,” he said. “My vision is that the town really develops a good, comprehensive plan for using this for public use.”
Coun. Chan hopes that the area will become part park, part educational and historical area. The observatory was the site of the discovery of the first black hole.
Before the transaction closes Oct. 12, lingering objections to the Dunlap Settlement will be heard at an OMB meeting early this month.
The Richmond Hill Naturalists group (RHN) came forward with unspecified objections to the original 111-acre settlement, creating the need for a resettlement hearing at the OMB Aug. 7.
According to its website, RHN wishes to preserve all 189 acres of an area it considers an “important public space and urban wilderness” that would safeguard green space in the southern part of Richmond Hill.
The RHN could not be reached before press time.