TORONTO - “At least the dialogue is on-going and open”, said PierLuigi Roi, potential candidate in the upcoming Italian elections. He was offering his observations on the public consultation process being followed by the Consul General, Giuseppe Pastorelli in respect of the Italian Government’s plan to effect re-modernization changes at the Casa Italia.
Unlike the perceived circumstances surrounding the disposition of public assets at Villa Charities, bystanders muttered in private.
In fact, Consul General Pastorelli wanted to announce the launch of a “Call for Expression of Interest” (EOI) from the world-wide marketplace for a[ny] plan to “refurbish and restore Chudleigh House to its former glory”, keep the Consulate in downtown Toronto, re-burnish Italy’s image in Canada and bring real benefits to the Italo-Canadian community.
No concept or design is on the table.
There are no limits to what one can propose. The only restrictions are those imposed by a timeline that suggest about six weeks response time, subsequent to the issuance of the call.
Any respondent will be made aware of a couple of significant and financially material items: (1) the current zoning only permits a structure of 1,300 square metres (c. 13,000 sf), and (2) the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association (CIBPA) apparently has the right of first refusal on any project, if it chooses to exercise that right in return for $40,000.00.
No design was presented for public input. No concept for public evaluation.
This was an announcement for a call for an open-ended financing plan to suit the market needs of any potential private sector partner. A few Community activists, like Prof Elio Costa and former MPP and WSIB Chairman, Odoardo Di Santo raised some concerns; they have a long history with Casa Italia.
The Italian government has no willingness or financial capacity to engage in the re-furbishing of a Historical site outside of its own national borders; although it does support this initiative. The great-grandson of the original owner (who sold the property to the Italian Canadian community in 1936) apparently also supports the initiative. But also without making a financial contribution.
There is no process announced or supported by the CIBPA, which shares the same address as Villa Charities Inc and similarly bills itself as a voice for the community, for consultations with the “community”, before or after responses to the EOI. We’ll just have to trust them to do the right thing.
Villa Charities, was absent from the consultation. The Congress of Italian Canadians did not answer the call. Aside from Mr. Roi and Mr. Tony D’Aversa, no other potential or declared candidates for the Italian elections found the time to attend.
One member of the Media (uncharacteristically pointed in his questioning) laid out what will be the themes going forward: “this is [about] … Canadian land and … Canadian history … you’re sitting on the hottest property in Toronto … you are sitting on dollar signs…”