TORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) takes credit for operating 168 elementary schools and 31 high schools. It is a big responsibility. The children and teen-agers they are educating are the citizens of tomorrow. They are our family and neighbours.
A foundational value of the TCDSB’s predecessor board, the MSSB, was that the Church, The Family and the School would form a seamless continuum for instructing and educating generations of Catholic citizens. That “trilogy” aimed to instill purpose, means, ethics (accountability and transparency) in the hearts and minds of a citizenry that would be inclusive and respectful.
Make no mistake, the MSSB, like the TCDSB is not immune from pragmaticism and “the ways of the world”. It was and is a significant commercial enterprise: over $1 billion budget and 10,000 employees comprising academic and no-academic staff.
There are bound to be questionable decisions. The building of a 32nd school – a new Dante Alighieri Academy, less than 50 metres from the site of the “old” school, in an environment of declining enrollment – is one of them. The logic is challenging for simple minds.
The TCDSB is in the process of buying the Columbus Centre (CC) in order to do precisely that. It claims to do so in the name of creating a “community hub”’ a modern day “trilogy” above.
But it will demolish and destroy one of those “hub pillars” in the process.
How? The Planning Department requires a road be built in order to permit the building of a school. That road goes directly through the Columbus Centre. But the newly-elected Vice Chair, Maria Rizzo, claims, on the record, that TCDSB does not want the road and is buying the CC to save it from the wrecker’s ball.
The wreckers are ready. The road will provide them with an opportunity to develop the eastern half of the site (see Map elsewhere on the page) with at least three condos. For good measure, it will allow the neighbour at the southeast corner of the quadrant - 3000 Dufferin - to build at least another 511 housing units.
One imagines that they are “encouraging” her to push onward. They have a lot to gain.
In an open letter, also published elsewhere on this page, Vice-Chair Rizzo claims that the local MPP and his Federal colleagues can put a stop to all of this by declaring the site to be “in the public [provincial] interest”.
Classic tactic of “Blame others for what you are doing”.
At least clarify the applicability of the Regulations governing “in the provincial interest” in this case. There is none.
Nor has anyone made a case for the project that will pass the test of scrutiny, as Founder and former Villa Charities Governor, Tony Fusco, affirmed in his letter to VCI on December 11.
The only rationale is that it will make [us] lots of money - $1.5billion and counting for the developer. But making money is not part of the mission statement or mandate of the TCDSB. If trustee Rizzo, is so committed to saving the Columbus Centre, why not just abandon the project?