Photo: Founder Anthony Fusco Sr. and his granddaughter Stephanie Fusco D'Amico, during the meeting
TORONTO - Sometimes, “the little guy wins”: “David” had been mounting an ever-insistent and incrementally loud campaign to save the Columbus Centre from the [Goliath] wrecker’s ball.
Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris had been listening, reading and watching. She had consulted with her cabinet colleague Laura Albanese and Caucus colleague MPP Mike Colle.
Anyway, the once the Minister’s letter to the School Board was sent and received, the Agreement between Villa Charities and TCDSB could no longer be consummated. The Board’s vote on trustee Piccininni’ s Motion of November 16, 2017 was a foregone conclusion.
No [provincial] money, no partnership, no deal. Even some of the rogue, quasi-billionaire types who have seized control of a once proud community not-for-profit, charitable organization, whose vision was always cultural and social service in nature, need explain how they would raise $74 million without government assistance for a project that has no public support. They should have understood.
They didn’t. Nor did their spokesperson, the CEO of Villa Charities, Anthony Di Caita, who delivered a senselessly vindictive, vituperative and threatening presentation. His target? Founders, TCDSB, the Ministry and all concerned citizens who had exercised their civic responsibility to be heard on the issue of “redevelopment”, “reimagining” and demolition of the Columbus Centre and all that it had come to represent. He was booed roundly and repeatedly – justifiably so.
Until his closing, the presentations against the joint venture had been polite, persuasive and to the point: the project, as is, runs counter to the vision and mission statement of the Founders of Villa Charities; has no public support; should be abandoned, and, resources allocated by the Ministry for school construction be applied on currently-held TCDSB property.
Founders Con Di Nino, Anthony Fusco Sr., Paolo Auriemma, constitutional lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo, CASA members Elliott Posen, Stephanie Fusco-Di Marco, Casa Del Zotto resident Sonia Panfilli, Pier Luigi Roi and Connie Ricupero underscored the value inherent in the Columbus Centre. They called on the TCDSB to walk away from the Agreement, reveal the contents and scope of the Purchase and Sale agreements of the Convent and the Centre.
They got their wish. Even “kicking and screaming” some trustees were able to see the hand writing on the wall. In the end the vote could not help but be unanimous.
Two further items of business remain outstanding. One, the TCDSB must make available to the public the documents above. Two, the group that “saved” the Columbus Centre must now call for the resignation and replacement of the VCI Board of Governors who generated this fiasco.
There is a positive side to this: notwithstanding the self-serving claims by those governors that the Italian Canadian Community no longer exists, the exercise is proof positive that it does and is dynamic. They should be replaced. If they have any dignity, they will step aside without too much pressure and be thanked for their service.
Corriere Canadese compliments all those who contributed to the “victory”. Our editorial team was proud to be a part of it.