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Is #1000331725 Ontario Inc.
an “Honourable Man”?

TORONTO – Shakespeare made the phrase famous c.500 years ago when he rote the lines for Mark Anthony’s oration at the funeral of Julius Caesar. His intention, laden with sarcasm, was to portray Brutus as less than forthright. Zachery Shwaluk, Secretary-Treasurer of the Order of Saint basil the Great Holding Corp (owner and Seller of the site hosting the Marian Shrine on Weston Rd.) could have been the target of a Shakespearean oration.

#1000331725 is co-Purchaser with AvranceCorp Developments of the formerly Basilian “monastery” and High School. Their first action on closing was to deface/vandalize/remove signs referencing the location as having any religious merit or significance.

Royal Lepage, presumably the R.E. Broker for the deal, “proudly” (?) placed their red SOLD signs at all access points. Secondly, the buyers proceeded to block access to those who continued to wish to pray at or near the site. A police detail was called in to buttress the biggest contingent of security personnel since the Rolling Stones hired the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club for protection at one of their concerts.

Children members of a soccer league (tenants in the community centre) were allowed on site. Devotees, “armed” with rosary beads, were not, until Gianfranco Cristiano (how did he not win as a trustee candidate in the last election?) intervened.

Clockwise from top left: Tom Rakocevic, Fr. Zachery Shwaluk, Gianfranco Cristiano and Anthony Perruzza

It took a while to “sort things out”, thanks as well to Councillor Anthony Perruzza and MPP Tom Rakocevic. The devotees, who live out the Christian message of humility – the meek shall inherit the earth – needed them.

It seems that the Buyers were reneging on an agreement to allow the faithful to continue to pray as close as possible to the gardens that had become the Shrine to the Mother Mary of Gratitude. Aside from liability/insurance issues, covered by the lease agreement expiring November 30, 2024, it beggars the mind to discover the rationale behind their patent effort to offend.

Veteran City Councillor Anthony Perruzza seemed equally perplexed: “This is a peaceful crowd by anyone’s definition; the buyer has not presented a development plan for the 13.5 acres of land that are included in the acquisition”, he said. “The entire parcel falls under the jurisdiction of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. When the time comes the buyers – whoever they may be, will need these people… desperately”.

Tom Rakocevic MPP for the area (!) has already written to the Provincial Heritage Minister, Michael Ford MPP, asking for his positive intervention in having the site declared a Heritage site (read the letter here). It is unlikely that any development plans will be entertained until that is resolved.

Minister Michael Ford, MPP

Several other potential “Buyers”, Graduates of Saint Basil’s, Builders and entrepreneurs have started to come forward with plans and proposals to preserve the Shrine and allow for whatever development government policy and community needs may require.

 There are too many moving pieces, all attached to dollar signs. To be fair, those committed to transparency are beyond reproach. Why Zachery Shwaluk would choose, or pursue the current buyers remains a mystery.

The Provincial government is in the middle of an increasingly complicated development issue regarding conservation lands. Those devotees may represent an honourable exit strategy.

To date, about 20,000 people have signed a petition in support of the Marian Shrine. Moreover, Councillor Perruzza indicated his website will soon accept links to those who may wish to declare their support.

It seems Round two is tilting to Patience and Resiliency.

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