Columbus Centre “threatened” yet again by VCI

di Joe Volpe del 23 July 2018

TORONTO - Toronto City Council headed into its final, pre-election, deliberations may be asked to decide on a consideration by the Toronto Preservation Board (TPB) taken on July 12, 2018.
This week, and not next year as initially indicated.
The Report from the Director, Urban Design, City Planning recommended unanimously that 901 Lawrence Avenue West (the Columbus Centre) be included on the City of Toronto’s Heritage Register. It attached a 37-page document outlining the Reasons for Inclusion.
The Staff, not to be confused with the elected Councillors or their political aides, conducted an arms-length study, relying heavily on outside expertise, over a fifteen-month period.
In sum, the property “meets Ontario Regulation 9/06, the provincial criteria prescribed for municipal designation under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act, which the City applies when considering properties for inclusion on its Heritage Register”.
The public had been invited to present at the July 12 meeting. Villa Charities Inc. (VCI), a charitable, not-for-profit organization founded on the premises of social, community and cultural services, sent its CEO, Anthony DiCaita to protest the findings.
The results speak to his ability to persuade anyone of VCI’s view that the TPB.
DiCaita complained that neither he nor his Board (composed of lawyers, accountants, financiers, professors and businesspersons) could be expected to prepare a credible submission on eight days notice.
Other intervenors were genuinely shocked at his “total ignorance of the most elementary history of the site and the Centre”.
Councillor Maria Augimeri has been consistent since the matter was first referred by Council to the TPB in April, 2017.
“The Columbus Centre is the fruit of engagement and contributions by the Community to create an icon of what can and should be done by those of us who came to this country to improve our lot and those of others who share(d) our experience and our vision for the future”, she said in an interview; asking herself rhetorically, “how can someone entrusted with this legacy not know what everyone else does?”
But DiCaita has an already established reputation for combativeness bordering on bullying.
In a Toronto Catholic District School Board meeting last February, when the TCDSB withdrew from the shared facility Condominium project, DiCaita made menacing allusions to taking measures to secure relief. He continues to have the support of the other members of the VCI Board, whose unflagging desire to turn the south-west quadrant of Lawrence and Dufferin into a Condo gold mine for private interests seems to burn ever so passionately. Without commenting on the legitimacy of ownership or “revisioned” strategies by VCI, Councillor Augimeri worried that back door machinations by some of those members might muddy the waters of redevelopment.
“I am interested in VCI returning to the vision that had served the Community and our City so well, until this group of Governors decided to opt for ‘Development for Development’s sake”, she said.
“To that end’, she added, “I and other like-minded Councillors are preparing a Motion for Council that will compel it to deal with the Report by the TPB this week – not in the new year as initially planned.”
She indicated a copy of the Motion will be made available to the Corriere Canadese as soon as it is finalized.

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