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Richmond Hill restores observatory's natural heritage, beauty to 'former glory'

David Dunlap Observatory Park poised to become city's next destination park
July 27, 2021
Yoyo Yan

The City of Richmond Hill is making strides in the development of the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) Park, with the completion of significant restoration work on the historic observatory dome and administration building.

"The DDO Park will be a destination park where visitors come to see Canada's historic observatory, celebrate the stars and enjoy acres of natural parkland. Already a popular and cherished landmark in our community, I am amazed by the work that was done to these buildings to restore these historic treasures," said Acting Mayor Joe DiPaola.

Over the past year, adhering to strict requirements for heritage restoration, intricate work was carefully carried out on the 86-year-old buildings to restore the exterior heritage features to their original state.

"I am excited to see the progress taking place at the observatory site where the buildings have been restored to their former glory. The revitalized buildings add to the natural beauty of the park that can be enjoyed by all residents in future," said Ward 6 Coun. Godwin Chan, chair of DDO Park Project Steering Committee.

This work included restoration of wood windows and doors, repairs and conservation of metal surfaces, replacement of metal roofing and flashing, and masonry and concrete repairs and restoration.

Additional efforts were made to preserve the structures for the future, such as the installation of new foundation waterproofing and drainage systems, upgrades to existing municipal services, and upgrades to electrical systems.

The restoration work is a key part of the DDO Park Master Plan, and was completed on time and within budget.

The city is also making progress on other projects identified in the first phase of the plan, setting the foundation for the advancement and development of this destination park that will attract visitors from all over the GTA.

Woodlot restoration work already underway will preserve and enhance the natural areas on the parkland and restore the woodlands to a healthy forest. More than 8,000 trees and shrubs have been planted and fencing has been installed to protect newly planted trees from browsing deer and allow tree growth.

Later this year, the city will embark on building a 2.25-kilometre trail system so residents can enjoy more of the natural beauty of this park during all seasons.

The observatory is currently closed to the public. Astronomy programs are being offered virtually. For more information about the history of the DDO and the city's master plan for the area, visit