DDO Ongoing Projects

The DDO Park includes the 40 hectares (approximately 100 acres) of land that was protected from development.

DDO Park Master Plan 
The DDO Park Master Plan sets out a vision for the future enhancement, management and programming of the DDO Park.

The Master Plan was developed through a process that involved extensive public consultation and was approved by Council on September 26, 2016.

 DDO Long-term Woodlot Restoration

Woodlot restoration and removal of dead/hazardous trees will be taking place in the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) Park over the next few years.

Why is this work being undertaken?

Preserving and enhancing natural areas is one of eight key principles in the DDO Park Master Plan. There are currently many trees on the property which are in poor and/or hazardous condition due to infestations and storm damage. As a result, the forest is in poor health and vulnerable to undesirable plants which grow aggressively and have the ability to destroy the park's unique environment.

Richmond Hill is developing and implementing a long-term plan to restore the woodlands to a healthy forest. Work will include:

  • Hazardous tree and debris removal
  • Herbicide treatment
  • Hydrological Improvements to the landscape
  • Tree planting
  • Monitoring

While this work will change the appearance of the forest, it is a temporary and necessary step to create space for new native trees that will enhance the DDO Park.

 Phase 1 Restoration (2017-2020)

Phase 1 of the woodlot restoration work is now complete. This work took place between 2017-2020 and involved hazard tree removals, treatment and removal of invasive trees and plants, as well as tree planting. City staff, together with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) will continue to monitor the plantings and conduct required maintenance within the Phase 1 area over the next two years. Part of this work will also involve repeated spot treating of invasive plants with herbicide to control their spread and decrease competition of new plantings. Herbicide treatments will take place in the spring over a 2 to 3 day period and will take place again in fall 2021.

View the DDO Park Phase 1 and 2 Woodlot Restoration Map 

 Phase 2 Restoration (2020-2023)

In November 2020, the TRCA, working on behalf of the City, will begin Phase 2 of the woodlot restoration (see map – Woodlot Restoration) including hazardous tree and debris removal, herbicide treatment, hydrological enhancements and native tree and shrub planting. This work will take three years to complete followed by two years of monitoring and maintenance.

View the DDO Park Phase 1 and 2 Woodlot Restoration Map 

2020/2021 Site Preparation for Plantings and Maintenance

As part of the preparatory work for the upcoming tree planting a small section of the Phase 2 area will undergo hydrological improvements. This will involve the use of grading machinery to modify approximately 0.6 ha of land to restore it to its natural conditions.  Grading improvements will take approximately 2 to 3 days to complete and will start November 16 2020, weather permitting.  During this time local residents may see and hear machinery within the park. This is a temporary and necessary step to ensure the success of planned tree plantings.  

Starting February 8 2021, the TRCA will be removing dead, hazardous and invasive trees and shrubs from the wooded areas within the Phase 2 project boundary. This work will help to make room for desirable native plant material that will help to improve the forest health and provide habitat for local wildlife.  Part of this work will also involve repeated spot treating of invasive plants with herbicide to control their spread and decrease competition for upcoming plantings. Herbicide treatments will take place in winter 2021 over a 2 to 3 day period and will take place again in spring and fall 2021.

2021 Planting Activities

In the spring of 2021, a wide variety of native trees and shrubs (evergreens and deciduous) will be planted by the TRCA that will, over time, enhance the natural aesthetic of the park and provide habitat for local wildlife. Plantings will replace the trees and invasive plants that will be removed during the winter of 2021. It will also involve the creation of new forested areas in some of the open fields that eventually form part of the woodland cover within the park. As well, site preparation for plantings will include mowing the Phase 2 planting areas in order to reduce initial grass competition. Deer fencing will be added in some areas to protect newly planted deciduous trees and shrubs from deer herbivory.



 Observatory Hill Subdivision

 Settlement Plan

In April 2010, Corsica submitted Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment applications to Richmond Hill for the DDO property. The original proposal submitted by Corsica included 833 homes spread out across the majority of the DDO site. The proposal was rejected by Council and Corsica appealed this decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

Through the OMB's mediation process, five parties to the appeal (City of Richmond Hill, Corsica Developments Inc., Toronto and Region Conservation, the Region of York and the DDO Defenders) reached an agreement for the future of the property.

The agreement proposed that 56 per cent of the property (the western portion) would become a public park while the development of 530 homes would be allowed on the eastern portion of the property. The agreement is illustrated in the Settlement Plan

The Settlement Plan preserves all of Richmond Hill's cultural heritage interests, provides for a large public park, and protects most of the natural features on the site. On May 1, 2013 the OMB released their decision in support of the Settlement Plan calling it "good planning" and "in the public interest."

 Temporary access road
As part of the Corsica subdivision agreement, the developer was required to bury the overhead hydro wires that provide power to the DDO Administration Building.

To facilitate this work, Alectra required the construction of a 10 metre wide temporary access road, northeast of the Administration building. The hydro burial works were completed December 2019 and the temporary access road will be removed and the area will be re-naturalized by the end of 2020.

Note: Tree/shrub groupings designated as part of the DDO cultural heritage landscape are not located within this area.

 Richmond Hill David Dunlap Observatory Facility Restoration and Revitalization Project

The Richmond Hill David Dunlap Observatory facility restoration and revitalization project will see the exteriors of both the Administration building and the Observatory dome restored to preserve their heritage features.

Throughout 2020, this project made significant progress and is on track to being completed on time in spring 2021.

Once work is complete,  these buildings will continue to benefit astronomy lovers who will participate in astronomy programs here in future.

Construction update (as of January 2021)

The City is working to execute the project in phases. 

  • Phase 1 – restoration of the Administration building exterior, including windows and doors, masonry and stone, copper features, metal domes and repainting of exterior metal surfaces (anticipated completion - February 2021)
  • Phase 2 – restoration of the Observatory building exterior, including metal surfaces, windows, doors, catwalks and repainting of exterior metal surfaces (anticipated completion - March 2021)
  • Phase 3 – site and servicing work to the Administration building, including improved drainage, foundation waterproofing, and improvements to both water and electrical services to the building (anticipated completion - May 2021)

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Access Richmond Hill at access@richmondhill.ca or 905-771-8800.


   DDO Construction with scaffolding on the admin building  DDO Construction with scaffolding on Dome

 DDO Construction - almost completed Admin Building  DDO Construction - almost completed Dome