Tony Fusco, a founder, condemns the VCI project
Tony Fusco, a founder, condemns the VCI project
“Pursuant to an invitation issued by the executive of Villa Charities Inc. In September 2017, I feel that it is required of me, to reinforce my negative reply to the members and executives of Villa Charities Inc.
Based on the facts, or rather lack of the same, my reply that evening was overwhelmingly against the proposed joint partnership between VCI and the TCDSB, as amateurishly submitted to me and to my past president colleagues.
That evening (any other time since then) I was not presented nor have I see any meaningful rationale as to why the Italian Canadian community should enter into an agreement to sell off community property at this time, particularly to the TCDSB and or to any other potential purchaser or purchasers.
No proper financial data and projections submitted to me made any sense.
The financial verbal statements were backed with no evidence as to the status of the Columbus Centre,
Besides suggestions that the existing Columbus Centre was falling apart and required millions of dollars to bring it up to specs. My own inquiries with professionals in the regard disprove this fact, as the problems in the Centre are related more to neglect in its maintenance and repairs and not to any more fundamental causes requiring its demolition. I am satisfied that the buildings are structurally sound, although they have been sorely neglected by the current administration and the members of the VCI board.
Statements were further submitted to me that this project was contemplated with the Catholic School Board as valuable partners. With further investigation I have reached the conclusion that the TCDSB is not a suitable partner, assuming that a partner is in fact required, as it is my opinion that it is not. In addition, trying to establish what benefits a joint building project would do for the community,
I cannot find any item and programs that the joint project would provide to the Community that the Community does not already enjoy with the facilities and programs currently provided by the Columbus Centre.
A further investigation with regard to the rezoning and building plans submitted firstly to the City of Toronto and now in front of the OMB show a public road cutting the Columbus Centre lands into two distinct portions.
Based on the proposals submitted to me, this road is ridiculously unnecessary and unjustifiable given the current needs of the surrounding community. It detracts from the tranquillity and enjoyment of the campus by the senior population that occupy Casa Del Zotto, Casa Caboto and Villa Columbo, the latter, as you should know, being the germ seed of the Italian Canadian Community and its original base.
I object in the strongest possible way such a dramatic change to the configuration of the Columbus Centre Campus. Subsequent to our September meeting, it has been disclosed that in January 2017 the TCDSB acquired, for the not-unsubstantial sum of $18,000,000.00, additional acreage from the Sisters of the Good Shepard, something that was not disclosed by either Boards but has come to the surface thanks to the investigations of other parties.
Add to this the (probably material) rumour that the TCDSB will be obliged to purchase from
Villa Charities a similar acreage for more or less the same amount, making its cost of acquiring the land portion only for this project over $36 million.
This suggests that the School Board is in a different trajectory than the building of a new (now unnecessary) school and it has too much money in its hands, something that has compelled me to redirect the educational portion of my municipal taxes from the Catholic School Board to the Public one.
Regrettably, I have not received nor have I been informed of any facts that would induce me to modify this position.
On the contrary, one must be blind not to be impressed by the overwhelming displeasure expressed by the Italian Canadian community, the Columbus Centre membership and other New Canadian communities that have rallied to oppose this unjustifiable project.
I feel that the harm caused by the irresponsible actions of Villa Charities in its unholy alliance with the TCDSB is a serious setback to the mandate and the mission of the original owners of the Columbus Centre campus, namely the Italian Canadian Benevolent Corporation.
It is common knowledge that the current Villa Charities lands, acquired through obscure legal maneuvering, have appreciated substantially during the past decade, with the likelihood that such appreciation will continue as the city grows and land becomes scarcer. In dealing with this issue, it is my opinion that the current Villa Charities Board
have failed to comply with their obligations for transparency and accountability that is embedded in the Charitable Institutions Act of Ontario.
This was pointed out to the Board back in 2013, as per my letter of resignation from the board of Villa Charities Foundation which I am attaching to this letter.
This modus operandi by Villa Charities has gotten worse since then, as witnessed by the complaints and remarks of numerous stakeholders.
For all the reasons outlined above and in light of my long-standing involvement with all aspects of the Columbus Centre, Villa Charities and especially Villa Colombo, I must take an unequivocally contrary stand against the current proposal entered into by the directors of Villa Charities Inc. and the TCDSB … . and to this, I say Amen!!”.