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 and 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 athletic members have a presence on the Villa Charities board there is always a possibility that the Villa Charities board will again make decisions contrary to the desires of the community and the athletic members. All trust in them has been lost.
The mayor of Toronto at our rally.
With condo units selling in excess of $400,000, those condo developers, with the right connections, could expect to make profits of close to half a billion dollars if they can get their hands on this prime real estate. Could some Villa Charities board members be given a an incentive to proceed with condos despite the community's protests ? No one in the community has ever sought a replacement for the Columbus Centre, nor were they ever consulted during the last planning process.
The plans that were finally revealed show a much smaller Columbus Centre facility with few of the amenities that the 4,000 members have enjoyed for almost 40 years. The magnificent, mature trees in the Columbus Centre's park like setting would disappear along with the tennis courts and the pleasant patio overlooking the campus. To find a lush, green oasis in the middle of a large, densely populated city is unusual and treasured. As well, the impressive and unique Carrier Art Gallery, with its ramps encircling the rotunda's three story display galleries, would be destroyed. This is one of the largest private art galleries in Canada. The soaring, impressive, marble clad grand entrance lobby to the Columbus Centre would also have disappeared.
2 Vista Humber Drive, Toronto, ON, M9P 3R7 Tel 929 800 2397
Through the efforts of many, the Toronto Catholic District School Board withdrew $32,800,000 from a joint project with Villa Charities to build a $70,000,000 school/community centre on the site of what would have been a demolished Columbus Centre.
Does this mean that Villa Charities is now focused on maintaining the Columbus Centre? No. We are being told their focus is on Italian cultural initiatives not on maintaining an athletic centre? Hundreds of athletic members have left because of this neglect. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been lost.
Who are "they" to set these priorities? They are a small group of individuals, who only appoint members to their board who will agree with their objectives.
They try to ignore the 3,600 athletic members who support the Columbus Centre by paying a monthly fee. These 3,600 athletic members are the largest group using the facilities of this not-for-profit charity.
The existing Villa Charities directors are not shareholders. They do not own the Columbus Centre. They are just a group of self appointed individuals with no more right to sit on that board than you or I.
The 3,600 members want to elect directors to the Villa Charities not-for-profit board who will represent the majority of the users of the facility. It is only fair that they too should have a say in setting Villa Charities priorities. This is called democracy.
SUPPORT OUR EFFORT TO BRING DEMOCRACY TO VILLA CHARITIES
COME OUT TO THE RALLY ON JUNE 26TH.