Piccininni to defend Columbus Centre against destruction

di Mariella Policheni del October 10, 2017
TORONTO - Finally, someone is making sense. Trustees of the TCDSB, faced with the rising community anger for its role in the planned demolition of the Columbus Centre, are no longer presenting a united front. Trustee Sal Piccininni opened a breech in that wall by presenting a notice of motion (last Thursday) for the full Board meeting scheduled for October 19 regarding the TCDSB’s partnership Agreement with Villa Charities Inc. to construct a community hub together.
The Motion, if approved, would move Columbus Centre one step closer to salvation from the wrecker’s ball.
The decision by Trustee Piccininni is bold to say the least, given the TCDSB’s obdurate wall of indifference to the Community’s opposition to the construction of the shared-use facility that would replace the Columbus Centre.
Already, as reported by the Corriere Canadese in our October 6 edition, there had begun to appear internal misapprehensions on the part of some Trustees in response to questions sent via email by our paper; not all of the respondents expressed firmness of resolve to proceed with the project.
Some expressed a desire to await the public hearings and consultations, scheduled for conclusion before the end of January, 2018, before proclaiming a final decision. What seemed a sure thing is now “shaky”.
Mr. Piccininni has disassociated himself, singularly, from the project. He did so after having concluded that opposition to the plan is coming not only from the immediate residents adjacent to the Centre but indeed from all areas of the city. Everywhere I go, he told the Corriere, people question our motives and our logic. 
And, it not an issue that is one community specific. There are several others that have locked arms with the Italian community in making the Centre a focus of their affection and attention, the Jewish community first among them. Moreover, efforts to contain the issue within defined parameters (Community against Villa Charities Inc.) have failed. 
Now the storm threatens to engulf the Toronto Catholic District School Board, a publicly-funded organization that has embarked on an adventure with Villa Charities whose outcome is unlikely to boost its popularity, if it results in the demolition of a Centre built by Italians in Toronto. 
The Notice of Motion by trustee Piccininni at least sparks critical debate in that it proposes “proceed with the building of Dante Alighieri Academy Catholic Secondary School on the property presently owned by the Board.” 
It is a motion that will receive favourable responses from a citizenry in any case grown skeptical of the need to build a new school in an environment of declining enrollment. 
Since the inception of the debate on its merits, people have noted the wastage of public dollars. ow, finally, a voice to defend the public’s right to defend its Columbus Centre against proposed destruction. 
In any case, the school, Dante Alighieri, can be built elsewhere.

The motion:
Build Dante on another  TCDSB property
SUBJECT: Notice of Motion – Community Hub Partnership with Villa Charities 
WHEREAS: In 2010 or thereabout an agreement was signed between the TCDSB and Villa Charities to enter into a joint venture/community hub project 
WHEREAS: Trustees approved this partnership with the understanding that both the Villa Charities community and the school community were in agreement with this joint venture
WHEREAS: Very little movement or communication has taken place over the preceding 6 years on the status of the project 
WHEREAS: Recent vocal opposition to the project by the community at large who do not support moving forward with any major changes or updates to the building and site
BE IT RESOLVED THAT: On the completion of the public consultation by January 2018, that the TCSDB no longer pursue a partnership with Villa Charities, but proceed with the building of Dante Alighieri Academy Catholic Secondary School on the property presently owned by the Board.
Sal Piccininni
Trustee Ward 3

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