TORONTO - Dear Publisher, I read your article about DiCaita leaving today (the article is here: “Ding dong the witch is dead”, Villa Charities in chaos).
Yesterday, I sent an e-mail to what I thought was still a director of Columbus Centre. It turned out he had recently resigned. I followed up with a phone call which revealed to me that things are worse at the Columbus Centre than what I thought they could possibly be.
It seems, the only operation making money are the senior’s apartments. All operations are now directly controlled by the Villa Charities board except the athletic facility (in need of hundreds of dollars, if not millions, to make it marketable) and the dance school which are both controlled indirectly. Villa Charities has been forced to pour all its money into the Villa Columbo operation. The current VCI board appear to be made up new directors with little understanding or appreciation that the Columbus Centre was founded a community centre.
The only way I could see it surviving would be to convert the entire operation over to a member owned, not for profit corporation, where every member owned one share and the board of directors was democratically elected from these members (I could see different classes of membership at di.erent prices from "social memberships", "day care memberships", "senior’s memberships" and "health club memberships"). It is thought this idea would be totally rejected by the current VCI board who would want to hold onto their power. Perhaps it might be considered if it went bankrupt and a new member owned community board arose out of the ashes. Bankruptcy would certainly resolve the numerous lawsuits VCI faces - plaintiffs can’t get blood out of a stone.
They do have their problems. Thanks to CASA, no longer can they easily sell the land to get the funding they desperately need. It is no wonder my name and CASA were hated by the directors, thus it is unlikely that they are not going to turn to CASA (who represent the community) for help. No logical easy path presents itself to them.
Ian Duncan MacDonald