Dear Mr. Volpe,
I am writing to you about the proposed demolition and rebuilding of Columbus Centre, a venue that for a long time now has represented the very heart of the Italian community in the YGTA. Over the decades, like others I have attended many events there and made use of various facilities that the Centre provides. I have brought friends to the restaurant, attended exhibitions in the Carrier Art Gallery and ceremonies in the garden, and taken part in meetings held there. I hosted a private event there when a book in honour of my late husband was launched two years ago.
I object strongly to the demolition project for two major reasons: first of all, the newly designed building, I understand, would eliminate some important facilities like the art gallery. I wonder what will become of the works of art, especially since some were donated in the expectation that they would be housed in the gallery permanently for the benefit of the community. It is incomprehensible, moreover, that a community building should incorporate a school.
As others have already pointed out, the two entities are incompatible, for reasons of accessibility and security, for example. Co-existence with a school would actually impede the proper functioning of a community centre.
It seems to me that the school board should attend to its own business on its own properties. In fact, since the Catholic school board does not seem to be fostering the interests of the Italian community, I have already taken measures to transfer my school support to the public board.
I’ll be very disappointed to learn, if it’s true as has been suggested, that some individuals/ businesses (whoever/whichever they may be) are acting in the pursuit of personal gain from the building proposal that would eventually involve the construction of condominiums.
If the current situation of Columbus Centre is no longer financially viable, as I’ve been told, there must be other options that do not involve deliberate neglect of the current building and detrimental collaboration with school boards.
Olga Zorzi Pugliese,
University of Toronto