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Toronto Star: Minister of Education stops Project for Cultural Reasons
Andrea Gordon | February 21, 2018

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Province halts Toronto Catholic board's controversial land deal

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/02/17/province-halts-toronto-catholic-boards-controversial-land-deal.html

From Issue No. 267 | April 1, 2018

Columbus Centre

 

 
Opponents to a redevelopment that would have housed a Catholic high school and the Columbus Centre under one roof worried the proposal would mean the demolition of the centre.
Opponents to a redevelopment that would have housed a Catholic high school and the Columbus Centre under one roof worried the proposal would mean the demolition of the centre.  (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)

The province has stepped in to block a controversial North York redevelopment that would have housed a Catholic high school and the storied Columbus Centre under one roof.

The $70-million proposal, which sparked months of protests and public feuding in the neighbourhood, was a joint venture between the Toronto Catholic board and Villa Charities Inc., which runs the Columbus Centre.

Opposition reached a fever pitch within months of the announcement last spring among those fearing it would mean the demolition of the centre, built 40 years ago by the Italian community and considered a vital part of its history.

But the province, which allocated $32.8 million to the Catholic board in 2011 for a new high school, drew the line on Wednesday, saying it won’t provide funds for any project that will destroy the Columbus Centre.

In a letter Wednesday, Education Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris told the Toronto Catholic District School Board to “consider a new path forward for this project.”

Some opponents of the development, while welcoming the province’s move, said it’s only one step toward saving the Columbus Centre, which is in need of repair and is in a prime location at Dufferin and Lawrence Aves. for hungry condo developers.

“Our objective is to keep the Columbus Centre open, achieve heritage status for the building and to return the building to the fine state of repair that it was in five years ago before this distractions disrupted its management from their responsibilities to the community,” said Ian Duncan MacDonald, co-founder of a grassroots group that has fought to save the centre.

The province’s move comes a week before Catholic trustees had planned to hear presentations from the public about the redevelopment before voting on it. MacDonald said his group still intends to appear at meeting to object.

Editors Notes: This is an interesting decision, and suggests that some of the messaging ACO has been making about the need to consider cultural value in real estate decisions has been getting through.....or...community noise....or upcoming election....
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