TORONTO - The message is categorical. The message sent via email to the Corriere Canadese by the Mayor of Toronto, in response to a question regarding the demolition of the Columbus Centre, is unequivocal.
John Tory took part in the in the rally to save Columbus Centre, organized by MPP Mike Colle, Councillor Josh Colle and the Columbus Athletic and Social Association led by Ian MacDonald.
Tory spoke with demonstrators, listen to their concerns, took note of their frustrations and the affection that they expressed for this community centre whose construction and development was made possible in part by the donations and sacrifices of thousands like themselves.
He remembers clearly how the Centre at 901 Lawrence Ave W. first began to take shape. The Mayor recalls how the leaders of the period took their vision to the office of the then Premier (in whose office John Tory used to work) and asked – successfully - for financial the support from the government of the day … “and since then the Columbus Centre has flourished mainly because it is supported, used, and loved by the community.”
That community fervently wanted this Centre, one that has become a reference point for Italian-style cultural programs in Toronto and still today is viewed as the boutonniere in Toronto’s lapel.
In respect of this, Tory does not mince words, affirming that it will be the people who will determine the future of the Centre, and no other. “This Centre came from the community and its future should be decided by the community,” so writes the entered the fray sword -drawn, so to speak.
To this point, the number of political representatives who have come out openly in support of the community in its fight against both Villa Charites Inc and the Catholic School Board. Tory has shown an alternative approach: one needs to take a position and not support a project that buries the public’s view and spites the merit and pride of those whose sacrifices and passion built this icon of the Italian-Canadian experience.
Even in expressing support for the Community, His Worship, did not shy away from launching an attack on VCI and the TCDSB, even if he did not mention them by name: “… those seeking to demolish the Columbus Centre have not done their homework,” citing a lack of “genuine, respectful, complete community consultation”. There is no room for doubt. Those who want can read the writing on the wall.
His concluding remarks are equally crystalline: Until I am satisfied that any future plans for the Columbus Centre carry with them the support of the community at large, I cannot support a proposal which puts today’s valued success story at risk”.