FEBRUARY 22, 2018
THE TORONTO CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD
voted to sever their partnership with Villa Charities Inc'
On Feb.23, Villa Charities announced,
"redevelopment of the Columbus Centre ...will not be going forward."
This website describes the issues in the battle to save the Columbus Centre
Hundreds turned out for CASA's September 27th, 2017 rally
The Columbus Centre is a community centre at 901 Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto. It has been a central gathering place for Ontario's 900,000 Italians since 1980 when former Premier Bill Davis donated the land for $2, along with a closed detention centre on it, to the Italian Canadian Benevolent Corporation (the predecessor of Villa Charities Corporation).
Millions of dollars, raised by the Italian Community, were added to millions of dollars from all levels of government to construct the community centre. It quickly became the envy of other community centres in Ontario's cultural mosaic. Over the years, it has become a site where every Canadian Prime Minister, Ontario Premier and many other Canadian and foreign dignitaries have met with the Italian community.
Through legal manipulations, a self-appointed board of directors of Villa Charities gained control of the not-for-profit Columbus Centre. In the last few years, without consulting the greater Italian community or the then 4,000 members of the Columbus Centre, Villa Charities completed plans to build a new joint use building with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. To do this, Dante Alighieri secondary school and the Columbus Centre would both have had to be demolished. The new building would be owned by the school board. The Columbus Centre would be just a tenant.
A number of Villa Charities directors have connections with condo developers. Confidential plans, that CASA obtained, indicate that as many as 3,000 condos would be built on land that is now owned by the Columbus Centre and the school board. Land that would only become available with the demolition of the two structures. Despite their denials that a condo development were planned, architectural rendering and a signed contract became available that reveal the ugliness that what would have replaced the beautiful campus. The highest building would have been 26 stories high.
Until the whole community has representation on the Villa Charities board, there is always a possibility that the Villa Charities board will again make decisions without consulting the community and contrary wishes of the majority. The current, unelected board members have lost all credibility.
The mayor of Toronto at our rally.
With condo units selling in excess of $400,000, condo developers, could make profits of close to half a billion dollars if they could get their hands on the Columbus Centre campus. With undeclared incentives, could some Villa Charities board members vote to proceed with condos development despite the community's protests ? It could happen. In 2015 the the community was not consulted when a secret contract was signed to replace the Columbus Centre.
When, in 2017, the secret plans were finally revealed, they showed a much smaller Columbus Centre facility with few of the amenities that the athletic members have enjoyed for almost 40 years. The magnificent, mature trees in the Columbus Centre's park would disappear along with the tennis courts, the pleasant patio overlooking the campus, the impressive Carrier Art Gallery and the soaring marble clad grand entrance lobby to the Columbus Centre.
2 Vista Humber Drive, Toronto, ON, M9P 3R7 Tel 929 800 2397
On February 23, 2018, through the efforts of many, the Toronto Catholic District School Board withdrew $32,800,000 from a $70,000,000 joint project, with Villa Charities, to build a school/community centre on a demolished Columbus Centre site.
To GUARANTEE, that in the future the Columbus Centre could never be demolished, it had to be declared an official heritage site. On July 25, 2018, a vote by the Toronto City Council confirmed it is now an official heritage site.
Is Villa Charities is now focused on maintaining the Columbus Centre? No. Their neglect has led to the loss of thousands athletic memberships over the last 5 years. This is a loss of millions of dollars in profitable annual revenue.
Who sets Villa Charities priorities? It is a small cabal. They do not allow members on their board who do not support their narrow objectives. Thousands of athletic members, paying monthly fees, the largest group using the facility, are not considered suitable board members of this not-for-profit community centre.
Some of these self-appointed Villa Charities directors have been on the board of this not-for-profit corporation for 20 years. They have no more right to sit on that board than you.
The athletic members, the tenants in the senior's apartments and the Villa Charities employees want to nominate candidates who can be elected to have a say in setting Villa Charities priorities
Official Heritage Status
July 25, 2018
Next Objective For Our Community
A Truly Representative Board of Directors