Dear Premier Wynne:
In a letter dated January 24, 2018 to you, Villa Charities Inc. (VCI) is objecting to my call to you and the Minister of Education for the appointment of a Provincial Investigator under Sections 230 and 257.30 of the Education Act to report on the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s (TCDSB) financial processes since 2011 as it relates to the development agreement with VCI.
For the record, here is why there is a critical need to appoint a Provincial Investigator to report on the dealings of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) as it relates to the Columbus Centre lands, and their failure to rebuild Dante Alighieri Academy despite having been allocated $32.8 million in 2011 by our Provincial Government.
1. The TCDSB refused me, as the local MPP, the use of Dante Alighieri Academy and Regina Mundi Elementary School so that I could host a public meeting to inform the community of the status of the $32.8 million allocated by the Ministry of Education.
2. The TCDSB refuses to make public or allow most Trustees to see the multi-million dollar Agreements made between Villa Charities Inc. and the TCDSB.
3. The TCDSB kept the $18 million purchase of 3.2 acres of land from the Sisters of the Good Shepherd land adjacent to Regina Mundi and Dante Alighieri secret and refused to explain, as they are required under the Act, to disclose what the purchased land was going to be used for.
4. The public consultation process, paid for by the TCDSB, refused to table or acknowledge countless objections made during their meetings and, according to most observers, systematically skewed the process and the results to favour the developers’ perspective.
5. The TCDSB refused to release information or documents related to the agreements with VCI, under the Freedom of Information Act, to the public and only offered to release some documents if the community group paid over $13,000 for some of the documents.
6. The TCDSB and VCI circumvented the public consultation process with the City ofToronto by filing an application before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) thus bypassing the City of Toronto, its Councillors and City staff who, by the way, unanimously rejected this application for rezoning at North York Community Council and Toronto City Council.
7. As the local MPP it is my practice, as advised, to not meet with proponents of a development that is before a quasi-judicial body, in this case, the OMB.
8. It is also reported that in 2015 the TCDSB conditionally purchased the Columbus Centre building from VCI, without any public disclosure, for $22 million. This is the same year that the TCDSB hid a $22 million deficit from the public and the Ministry of Education.
In conclusion, if the financial actions and agreements of the TCDSB and their development partner, VCI, are not in violation of Ministry of Education rules and procedures, why are they afraid of an independent third party, appointed by the Ministry of Education, examining and reporting on the financial process and procedures? What are VCI and the TCDSB trying to keep from the public? What are they trying to hide?
This is why as the local MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence who has been waiting for a new school to be built since 2011, it is imperative in the best interest of the students, publically funded education, and the Ontario taxpayers that you encourage the Minister of Education to appoint an investigator as she has the power to do under the Act.
Mike Colle, MPP