A parent and his child before the meeting at the TCDSB
TORONTO - There is a glimmer of hope for those who are fighting to preserve the Columbus Centre and the cultural programs it was designed to promote but that the current VCI Board has decided to jettison along with the building.
Last Thursday, some seventy (70) people crowded outside the TCDSB offices at 80 Sheppard Ave. E. as a show of support for Trustee Sal Piccininni.
Mr. Piccininni had attempted to present a motion for debate in a meeting of the Student Welfare and Human Resources Committee calling for a “step back” by the TCDSB in its Revised Agreement with VCI to demolish the Columbus Centre.
The Chair initially dismissed his Motion as out of order. Mr. Piccininni remained insistent. Over the next several days a compromise of sorts was reached and he was permitted to present an intent to debate his motion before a full meeting of the TCDSB on November 17 (read the text of the Motion attached).
The small army of supporters moved inside into the Boardroom to hear and watch Mr. Piccininni read his Motion into the record. Then milled around him and Trustee, Vice-Chair Frank D’Amico, in the lobby to express their gratitude.
There had been “voices circulating” that VCI had been threatening a lawsuit against the TCDSB for non-performance if it did not “close the deal” it had signed. Even though at least three Trustees confirmed under condition of anonymity, neither VCI Chair, Aldo Cundari, nor its CEO, Tony De Caita, responded immediately to confirm or deny the veracity of the tactic.
“I will not speak to that”, said Mr. Piccininni, “I can only tell you and my colleagues that this issue has gone well beyond the local community, and no one I come into contact with is supporting the project”.
I asked why not. He responded, “My job as a Trustee is to promote Catholic education and the Catholic Values that are at the base of our Curriculum. It is not to build or help build condominiums for a private developer. We don’t need to partner with anyone to build schools for our children.”
What next, I asked. “We don’t know”, he responded, “this Motion will at least allow for a public, open debate, on the merits of the proposed partnership.”
It remains to be seen.
Subject: Community Hub Partnership with Villa Charities
Whereas: On December 19, 2012 a memorandum of understanding was signed between the TCDSB and Villa Charities to enter into a joint venture/community hub project to replace Dante Alighieri Academy
Whereas: Trustees approved this partnership with the understanding that both the Villa Colombo community, specifically Columbus Centre, and the school community were in agreement with this joint venture
Whereas: very little communication or community engagement has taken place over the 5 years since on the status of the project
Whereas: vocal opposition to the project by the greater community, local residents and consumers of the Columbus Centre facilities, who do not support moving forward with any major changes or updates to the building and site that involve the demolition of the Centre
BE IT RESOLVED THAT: upon the completion of the public consultation by January 31, 2018, a report shall be delivered to a full meeting of the Board, within 30 days from that date, attached with a final recommendation that includes the framework for construction and anticipated timelines, and
BE IT RESOLVED THAT: should the outcome of the public consultation not document overwhelming support for the redevelopment of the Villa Charities site, the TCDSB will no longer pursue the partnership with Villa Charities Inc and instead proceed with the building of Dante Alighieri Academy Catholic Secondary School on the property presently owned by the Board.