“A road through the campus? Fusco and I will stand and block the bulldozer”

di Redazione del February 20, 2018
We publih a letter to the TCDSB and VCI from the Hon. Con Di Nino
As the Chair and other members of the board of Villa Charities Inc. know, I am strongly opposed to the proposed redevelopment.
Those of us who formed part of the founding group, were extremely proud to have been able to secure this marvellous and perfectly located piece of land for the benefit of our community. Although, we may use terms such as “the Italian Community”, in reality The Villa Charities Inc.’s (VCI) commitment is to provide its services, with an Italian flavour and lifestyle to the public at large. The Carrier Art Gallery was principally included to celebrate Italian culture, along with other cultures, in our multicultural country.
As originally envisioned, VCI facilities can be described as “campus-like” where all are welcome and friendships and relationships are forged and, together, help to build a better and stronger Canada.
It is important that I acknowledge that it was then Premier Willam G. Davis, a much respected friend of our community, who, at the time, was instrumental in preventing the proposed residential development of the site and whose government eventually “gifted” the Columbus Centre lands to our organization.
I strongly believe the VCI lands should remain VCI lands and be maintained for community uses, as foreseen by the mandate of the founding group.
The Feb. 5/18 Villa Charities Newsletter reads like a declaration of war against anyone who dare oppose the redevelopment of the VCI facilities. For clarity, I am firmly opposed to the redevelopment proposal put forth by the VCI Board of Directors (The Board).
The Board’s communication and consultation plan, or lack thereof, for the redevelopment of the Columbus Centre site, was a self inflicted PR disaster. The Board’s approach to their planning and communication strategy resembles what one might expect from a private owner.
The Board has failed to meaningfully consult with the rightful owners, the community!
The recent attempts to consult with the community, appear to be nothing more than shameful marketing ploys, which have further inflamed those of us in opposition to the proposed development.
During the recent “consultations”, the VCI representatives showed little or no respect to anyone who did not agree with them. In fact, when the CEO was asked a question by a journalist, his response “ none of your F.....in business”, should have been cause for his immediate dismissal.
I believe Mary Bartolini, Joseph Carrier, Marco Muzzo, Fred De Gasperis, Helen Lettieri are looking down from their place in Heaven, joining the rest of us in shaking our heads at what is happening in our beloved campus.
Deep divisions are being created within the campus and the original vision is, at best, being blurred.
Frankly, I became enraged when I was informed that a new road was being proposed in the campus, which would connect Lawrence Ave., to Playfair Ave. I would see this as an act of sacrilege, considering that the site contains:
1 - Villa Colombo were nearly 400 residents are doing their best to live their last few years in peace and dignity; and
2 - Caboto Terrace and Casa Del Zotto containing 452 independent living apartments for seniors;
3-2 children’s day care centres, which host hundreds of kids and conduct a summer camp which usually attracts over 100 children each year.
Carving a road through the campus would be pure madness. It would severely and negatively impact on the small heaven at the corner of Lawrence and Dufferin which is not only enjoyed by its inhabitants and those who use the campus facilities, but also by the local residents, students of the adjacent schools and visitors.
With that to happen, I am sure Tony Fusco and I will joined by many others when we stand and block the path of the bulldozers.
I am certain I speak on behalf of all the founders when I proudly state that the dream of creating a community, with all of its warts, at the corner of Lawrence and Dufferin, was achieved.
A community which includes residents and users of the facilities alike. A community which also includes all who: enjoy the food provided in the campus, participate in various activities such as concerts, meetings, art shows, public and private events, celebrations of marriages, birthdays, first communions, baptisms etc...as well as those who use the facilities the celebrate the life of a deceased loved one. Most importantly a community where no one is excluded.
What has been happening makes me reflect on The Board’s decision a couple of years ago, to eliminate VCI’s voting memberships and severely restrict its memberships to only those approved by the board.
I can only assume that it is related to the redevelopment plan.
I strongly urge the TCDSB to reject the proposed development.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino

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