The Comment

Deception kills a fifty year old dream

TORONTO – If you still believe in God and the purpose of a well-run, morals-based, education system for your children, offer up a prayer for the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB); copy the archbishop; send it via registered mail to Minister Lecce and special courier it to Premier Ford.

The rot is beginning to cause nausea even among the most resistant. Look at the pictures elsewhere on this page and our digital sites and ask yourself if the demolition of a school erected in 1973-74 fits any kind of educational priority or demographic projection for growth. When you get past the answer [ a no, I expect], you may ask again why another Catholic school, one kilometer to the East, parallel to Regina Mundi Elementary School – and built some twenty years earlier – remains intact.

Regina Mundi, like the High School (Dante Alighieri Academy) next door and the Villa Colombo, virtually attached, were the product of a multi-organizational co-operation to create an intergenerational project – academic, social, cultural and health in scope – to overcome the avarice of a trustee who had managed to secure options, through devious means, on property owned by the Sisters of the Good Sheppard since at least the early ’fifties.

It worked for forty years, until “free money” ($32 million) from the Ministry of Education, found its way into a proposed redevelopment concept that would see the demolition of the schools, the Villa and the Columbus Center, a land swap of the “structurally sound” Convent positioned directly north of, and adjacent to, the high school. The site served as a destination point and as model for emerging communities.

In their place, the proposal would see approximately five condominium towers and a multi-use building to replace the Columbus Centre. (read the article here: Staying Alive: Toronto’s Columbus Centre members fight to save it from its own board of directors | LIVING TORONTO (

That Project collapsed in the face of public outcry, except that… the local trustee, following the election of the first Ford government, laid out a project on behalf of the TCDSB that would see the transfer of RM students to Dante Academy, transfer of the high school students 9.3 kilometers West to vacated Don Bosco H.S., in Etobicoke, daily by bus. The convent was left idle except for the occasional movie shoot.

The Board had paid out $22 million for the Convent and an additional $21.5 million (subject to conditions) for the Columbus Centre. (See the contract here: 901LAWRENCEAVENUEWEST-SignedAPS-9June2015-r)

The Province put the $32 million “on hold” or withdrew the allocation for purposes of the programme that had met such antagonism. The reputation of Villa Charities never recovered. Two of its affiliates, Community Living and Mens Sana, withdrew from the organization. Lawsuits emerged for control of cash flowing from government funding, among other assets.

In December of 2023, the TCDSB, in its interim financial statements declared that its $100 million surplus (coinciding with the designation of the Villa site as a heritage property and their decision to begin a redesigning of the Dante site) had been reduced to a $58 million deficit.

In early 2024, it started to transfer Regina Mundi students to the high school. It also advised trustees that the Administration was running a structural deficit of $48 Million and counting. The cause? Well, teacher absenteeism and increased transportation cost were cited among them. It was never made clear if TCDSB tried to free up the $32 million from the Ministry of Education, or from the Convent and Villa Inc.

In November of 2023, TCDSB applied for a demolition permit; and updated it in late February 2024. Two weeks later, it began a demolition process on Regina Mundi and to prepare both sites for…(what..?) As of last week, the City Planning Department had not received a definitive construction proposal from the TCDSB. Until it does, anything other than a parking lot as a replacement is purely speculative.

On the site, there are no signs indicating the name of the demolition company; or posters indicating future plans.

In the pics below, the demolition (photos: Corriere Canadese)

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