Pubblichiamo di seguito parte della lettera inviata da Ian D. MacDonald ai membri di CASA ed ai suoi sostenitori.
On October 19th, one of the school trustees, moving through the crowd of white haired CASA protesters gathered in the school board's lobby, muttered with scorn, just loud enough for us to hear, “Look at all these old people, this is all about demographics”. He was repeating the Villa Charities message that protesting senior citizens are expendable and can be ignored.
What this bigot did not recognize is that these older CASA protesters are a powerful group who refuse to be ignored. They make up a third of the 4,000 Columbus Centre members. They have surplus funds because they have paid off their mortgages and educated their kids. They live in homes worth more than a million dollars. They have millions of dollars in investments (some I am told, hundreds of millions). Many have annual incomes in excess of a hundred thousand dollars. They can spend hours every day working on good causes like saving the Columbus Centre. They can’t be intimidated. They don’t need to worry about losing their jobs. They have decades of experience as senior business executives, lawyers, accountants, town planners, politicians, writers, artists, etc. They have extended families and thousands of contacts that can called upon for assistance in the fight with Villa Charities and the Toronto Catholic District School Board. They are all voters with long memories.
I got into this fight because an arrogant Anthony DiCaita, President of Villa Charities, told me over dinner in April that whether we liked it or not, the Columbus Centre was going to be demolished in 2018 and a joint school-community centre was going to be built in its place. At that time, their plans were missing a swimming pool and a running track. When I said the members were not happy to lose the swimming pool and track, he said that as far as Villa Charities was concerned these were unnecessary frills and if we didn’t like it we could leave. He further felt the necessity to state that we weren't really members. All we were “are customers, consumers of a service”. At that moment, I said to myself, I will make you regret those words.
At the public meeting in May, which the city compelled Villa Charities/TCDSB to hold, they got their first indication that almost the entire community was opposed to their plans. Quickly they added in a swimming pool and a running track. By then, it was too late for them. We had already organized in opposition to their proposed demolition plans.
The members see the Columbus Centre as an Italian heritage icon. To them it is a monument to their fathers and grandfathers who arrived in Toronto with almost nothing and soon donated the money to build a community centre that anyone would be proud of. The members also recognized that the Villa Charities plans were missing many of the things they liked about the Columbus Centre e.g. an adult only health club, tennis courts, raquet ball courts, squash courts, an expansive green space with mature trees, permanent lockers, etc. When members then discovered plans showing 3,000 condominiums to be built on the Columbus Centre campus, this only hardened their resolve to fight this attack on their Columbus Centre.
Our fight is not over. CASA needs you to show up at the Toronto Catholic District School Board's offices at 80 Sheppard Avenue East at 7 PM on November 16th. On that evening, trustee Sal Piccininni’s motion to severe the school boards partnership in January with Villa Charities, is to be voted on. This will send a message to the Ontario Ministry of Education that the $32,800,000 they are holding for the construction of a new Dante Alighieri Secondary School, is not be released if it involves the demolition of the Columbus Centre. We need you their to support the 10 Columbus Centre members who will be allowed to plead our cause before the vote.
Ian D. MacDonald
CASA - Columbus Athletic & Social Association