TORONTO - The much awaited initial [summary] draft of the consultations conducted to justify the demolition of the Columbus Centre will be made available today.
Between 6:30 and 9:00 pm, at the Sala Caboto, 40 Playfair Ave., Maximum City and Dillon Consulting will unveil the results of their workshops. According to those who attended (exclusive of teachers, principals and other “dependents” of the TCDSB), these were a total farce.
To ensure that neither Villa Charities nor the TCDSB “get away with” presenting their one-sided view of the end game, the Columbus Athletic and Social Association (CASA) has sent out an invitation to their membership and others to attend and manifest their opposition.
Notwithstanding the strategic presence of staff of the VCI, the reaction of the public was in no way positive. The decision to actually hold these consultations had indeed been taken by VCI/TCDSB because both the Provincial Government and City Council had expressed displeasure at the fact that the partnership had not voluntarily sought the views of the community.
As affirmed by the 4,000 members of the CASA group, those views had been completely ignored and shut out. Nonetheless, despite the low esteem in which Villa Charities Inc is held by the public, VCI continues to contend that it “speaks for the Community”. How is this possible, one is prompted to ask, when there is no indication of specific plans or any indication of the trumpeted cultural programs?
If the future holds a “we know what is good for you, trust us” vision, then one can derive little comfort in the schedule available for the usage of the Carrier Art Gallery - until now a site for art shows – on March 1st it will be converted into a grand casino for the benefit of the “big shot gamblers” who will delight in their weakness in order to raise funds for long term, social-assistance programs.
That Cultural activities are in a continuous and constant state of decline at the Columbus Centre is an unfortunate fact, despite the constant perfunctory denials of VCI. Just as it is true, notwithstanding the protestations to the contrary by VCI, that the proposed TCDSB/VCI joint-project is little more than a cover for a condo project. The evidence is there for all to see from the plans filed by the partnership, and even published in the pages of the Corriere.
Yet, even though the plan to build condos on the site are there “in black and white”, VCI and TCDSB continue to maintain that there are no plans to build condos on the site!
Incredible. Trustee Maria Rizzo, a few weeks ago, on the record and on tape, baldly maintained that the TCDSB was acquiring the Columbus Centre with the goal of preventing City Planners from building a road through the middle of the Columbus Centre! Such a road is indispensable for VCI’ goal building condos!
Rizzo is not the only one who advances a line that tests credulity. The Chair of Villa Charities inc, Aldo Cundari, at a public meeting of the TCDSB, had no hesitation in in affirming that Villa Colombo is obsolete and will be replaced by condos and townhouses.
It is not a difficult step to conclude that the primary goal is not necessarily to bring radical improvements to a community asset but rather to build a condo project for a much narrower scope. In fact, the Community, should these plans come to fruition is more likely to find itself unconfortable in discovering that it will have gained nothing and lost everything.
It is not just an offended citizenry that asks what the advantages to the community are in this TCDSB/VCI proposal to demolish the Columbus Centre. Anthony Fusco, one of the principal founders of Villa Charities has publicly asked the same question and come out in the negative.
Nor can one overlook the fact that the $32.8 million made available by the Provincial government to the TCDSB in 2011 to address an “over-enrolment” crisis (at Dante Alighieri) have not been utilized. The “emergency” has passed – enrolment is in precipitous decline – but the desire to use public taxpayer funds has not been sated.
This latest project seems in fact to be a “cover” for interests that go beyond those claimed. Taking as a given that the demolition of the Columbus Centre is not motivated by an plan to serve the Community, then the tangible inherent interest contemplates other beneficiaries. Cui bono?
Who are they? It’s right to ask.