Observatory saga rages on to municipal board


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Karen Cilevitz said this dispute could have been solved long ago.

It’s been a long and arduous battle for the Town of Richmond Hill, Corsica Developments and the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) Defenders, determining the fate of the lands at the DDO. Though the parties reached an agreement on a development of 522 housing units on just under half of the observatory grounds’ 177-acre green space some time ago, the development is still at the stage of approving the plan of subdivision and zoning bylaw amendment.

Now a hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is scheduled for those approvals, but DDO Defenders chair Karen Cilevitz said even that will not be a breeze.

“It could have been a very simple hearing,” said Cilevitz. “It could have taken just a couple of days to get the OMB’s approval for these two things because they completely follow on the decision that has already been made.”

However, last year another residents group, the Richmond Hill Naturalists, opposed the settlement agreed upon by the other parties in the interest of preserving the heritage property.

“From our perspective, the cultural heritage landscape is part of the raison d’etre for the property,” said Marianne Yake, former president of the naturalists.

“We have to have another full-blown OMB hearing that will last about two weeks.”

“By putting housing so close to the telescope, there’s going to be an adverse effect on it.”

That lack of consensus will make the process even longer.

“Because the Richmond Hill Naturalists are opposing the plan of subdivision and the zoning bylaw amendment, we have to have another full-blown OMB hearing that will last about two weeks, as opposed to just a hearing to approve the plan of subdivision and zoning amendment by-law,” said Cilevitz.

The parties expect to head to the board late this spring.

“The hearing is scheduled to commence on June 9,” said Jason Cherniak, the attorney for the DDO Defenders.

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