TORONTO - The evening turned up more than what the organizers of the “town hall’ meeting about the Casa Italia might have had in mind. Consul General Giuseppe Pastorelli, flanked by Canadian Business and Professional Association (CIBPA) president, Ed Buriello, Ret. Justice Frank Iacobucci, and Sam Ciccolini met with a few representatives from the Italian community at the Western Point Club, Tuesday, July 11, to seek input in “potential plans” for the current home of the Italian Consulate in Toronto.
Nineteen other people were also in attendance. There was no definitive “plan” or “project” offered for discussion or consideration. One point of affirmation expressed without any equivocation was that the State of Italy seems to be the singular owner on title for 183 Beverly St.
Consul General Pastorelli outlined 3 principles guiding the deliberations of the Advisory Committee of “leaders in the community” selected for the purposes of providing guidance through the consultation and development process. These include the above and Pal Di Iulio, Con Di Nino and Julie Di Lorenzo.
Briefly those principles are as follows: (1) preserve the historical value of Chudleigh House, (2) give honour to maintain alive the “vision” of the three men who “re-acquired” the property from the Canadian government in 1955, (3) contemplate ways in which to bring enduring benefit [to the community].
The presentation and the responses appeared intended to convince the audience that NOTHING had been decided and that what everyone had before them was a tabula rasa onto which they could inscribe their own vision.
They were not entirely successful in their efforts.
Frank Misuraca deplored the sparsity of the crowd and the lack of documentation attesting to the Government’s right to sell the property to the CIBPA. A lady identifying herself as Renata asked for the Consulate’s plan to which the public might respond. Giuseppe Cafiso asked what was the plan that the CIBPA hoped the public might amplify.
He made several suggestions as to what might be of “benefit” to the Community. Mr. Buriello admitted to not knowing “what benefit is”. Daniela Di Marco wanted to know how any development would be financed and if there were any private investors interested in developing the site as part of their philanthropic activities.
This was echoes by Fulvio Florio. Both Ed Buriello and Sam Ciccolini affirmed that there we none. Dan Montesano queried about where the profits from the sale of improvements to the asset would go. Again, the latter two individuals indicated that they had either not thought of it or had not yet gone that far in the process. In other words, they didn’t know.
It was not that reassuring. Renata (?) again said that the public did not want that the same thing happen to Casa Italia that was happening at Columbus Centre: “in the end we have nothing”. Pal Di Iulio, who used to be the CEO at the Columbus Centre, pointed out that any plans to develop a vision required the “right financial model” to pay for everything.
The market demands that you develop the land according to the highest and best use. A point reinforced by Sam Ciccolini who closed with the supporting observation that one needs to look for avenues that maximize the value of the asset.
There is another meeting scheduled for September, before a decision is made.