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FAQ

At-A-Glance: Key Features and Site Statistics

Existing pool size:                                              8.5 m x 18.5 m
Proposed pool size:                                           8.5 m x 17.5 m

Existing indoor walking/running track:          105 metres
Proposed indoor walking/running circuit:     130 metres

Number of trees to be removed:                     75 trees
Number of new trees to be planted:               129 trees

Existing number of parking spaces:               658 spaces
Proposed number of parking spaces:            604 spaces

Existing outdoor amenity space:                     6,900 sm (not including tennis)
Proposed outdoor amenity space:                  5,500 sm (including courtyard)

Columbus Centre Programs

Current net usable program area (excluding racquet sports):          +/-11,000 sm

Proposed net usable program area (including shared facilities):     +/-12,000 sm

Outdoor walking/running circuit:    480 metres

Separate and controlled outdoor piazza for Columbus Centre and Dante including gardens terraced dining, urban forest and amphitheatre

Designated school parking during school hours and designated drop-off zone

Outdoor running/walking circuit and adult parkour fitness training equipment trail

Continued use of existing TCDSB outdoor track & field

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A. NEW JOINT-USE FACILITY – KEY FEATURES, FACTS AND PROJECT RATIONALE

A: We have been actively engaging with our communities on a number of fronts to gather input about the project, and have received valuable feedback. Your concerns and comments are important to us and will be addressed in the development of our plans.

As a result of these consultations, Villa Charities and the Toronto Catholic District School Board will be re-examining the current proposal to develop additional options for the joint-use facility.

We will continue to share further updates as information becomes available and look forward to an ongoing dialogue with our communities.

A: The new intergenerational community hub will be a premier destination for Italian-Canadians in the GTA and others of all ages wishing to explore Italian culture. It will provide fully modernized and enhanced facilities, with an array of programs.  This will be a reimagined space to better meet the needs and expectations of future generations and the community we serve.

Key features

  • A new 435-seat performing arts theatre
  • Urban park-like setting with 51 new trees
  • Energy-efficient complex with green roof
  • A fully accessible facility to meet the needs of people of all abilities
  • New controlled parking lots with sidewalks, landscaped boulevards and pedestrian connections to the Dante Alighieri Academy playing field

Columbus Centre/Villa Charities:

  • A 130 metre indoor running/walking track & 480 metre outdoor track
  • A 17.5 metre indoor swimming pool with resistance jets, available for lap swimming, aquafitness, lessons and leisure activities
  • State-of-the-art fitness studios and enhanced athletic facilities
  • Exclusive Columbus Centre-use change room facilities with private showers, sauna and whirlpool
  • Contemporary music, dance and art studios
  • A high-tech culinary studio with digital learning technology, enabling live interaction with chef instructors in Italy and all over the world
  • New event/banquet space
  • A dramatic, three-story glass façade along Lawrence Avenue that will bring natural light into cultural classrooms
  • A street presence for the restaurant and the art gallery, which will front onto Lawrence Avenue, with an outdoor patio dining area
  • Massage and therapy clinics, child-minding and other programs

Dante Alighieri Academy:

  • Single, centralized location for 1,000-1,300 Dante Alighieri Academy students, in a 21st century learning environment
  • Dramatic two-story library/resource centre
  • Triple gym
  • Commons/cafeteria that overlooks the gymnasiums and urban forest
  • Use of theatre, dance studio, fitness facility, music practice rooms, culinary kitchen
  • Break out spaces to allow for collaboration amongst students
  • Designated drop-off and pick-up zone

A: Villa Charities is redeveloping the Columbus Centre to secure and enhance its place as a premier cultural and learning destination for Italian-Canadians in the GTA and others wishing to explore Italian heritage.

The development of Villa Charities’ Lawrence-Dufferin campus stretches back almost 50 years. Times have changed, and we must adapt by providing upgraded facilities and services to better meet the needs of the evolving community around us.

We are approaching this redevelopment as an opportunity to reimagine every aspect of our facility, programs and services, and to provide more access to the community, in collaboration with our project partner, the TCDSB. This will be an intergenerational community hub.

A: The new Columbus Centre/Villa Charities & Dante Alighieri Academy Redevelopment will benefit the communities we serve significantly and in many ways.

At a very high level, we are creating a vibrant community hub for Italian-Canadians and others wishing to explore Italian culture. This is central to delivering on our mission of keeping our Italian heritage shining brightly in the GTA for generations to come.

The re-envisioned complex also better serves the community by providing expanded opportunities for the growing demand in relation to cultural, artistic, educational and recreational needs.

Other benefits include:

    • A premier cultural and learning destination with increased opportunities for all constituents
    • Shared-use spaces – e.g. cultural studios, fitness facilities, performing arts theatre
    • Expanded offering of complementary programs and services
    • A single, centralized location for all Dante students in a 21st century learning environment
    • Creation of new cultural programming
    • Significantly reduced costs in planning, development and operations
    • State-of-the-art facilities with access to the latest technologies
    • Energy-efficient complex with urban green spaces for outdoor activities and a green roof
    • A performing arts theatre, community rooms
    • An indoor walking and running circuit through shared service space within Dante Alighieri Academy
    • Swimming pool with resistance jets, available for lap swimming, aquafitness, lessons and leisure activities
    • A pedestrian-friendly environment with controlled parking, landscaped boulevards and connection to the Dante Alighieri playing field
    • A fully accessible facility to meet the needs of people of all abilities
    • Cost-effective and more efficient ways of delivering services to our community

A. The new Columbus Centre will support Villa Charities’ mission to celebrate and promote Italian heritage, culture, language, arts, food and family values. By advancing this mission, the new Columbus Centre will be a premier destination for Italian-Canadians across the GTA and for everyone wishing to share in our rich culture.

Our absolute commitment to our mission will be clearly reflected in our future programming, which will be enhanced with a new 435-seat multi-purpose community theatre.

A: Villa Charities’ partnership with the Toronto Catholic District School Board in the Columbus Centre/Villa Charities & Dante Alighieri Academy Redevelopment will benefit both organizations and the communities we each serve.

The partnership makes it possible to build enhanced, state-of-the art shared-use facilities that will significantly expand the total area available to both organizations and provide all users with a wider range of activities and programming. The shared facilities will include a new 435-seat multi-purpose community theatre, an indoor running track, additional dance and music studios, fitness facilities, a triple gymnasium, classrooms and culinary kitchen.

The shared-use spaces are supplementary to the larger exclusive-use spaces that will form the core facilities for each organization. The sharing of program spaces brings the total area available to both users well over their stand-alone building programs. Separate, exclusive-use space for the Columbus Centre includes improved facilities for Villa Charities’ art, dance, music and culinary programs, fitness, a restaurant and café, new event/banquet space, an art gallery and tenant space/administration offices.

Looking ahead, partnering in a combined community centre and school opens new opportunities for multigenerational usage and integration, creating a legacy for the future.

A: The Columbus Centre/Villa Charities and Dante Alighieri Academy will each have its own entrance leading to its own facilities, with secured doors preventing unauthorized access. The organizations will operate independently of one another.

A separate, exclusive-use section for the Columbus Centre will house improved space for Villa Charities’ art, dance, music and culinary programs, fitness facilities, a restaurant and café, new event/banquet space, an art gallery and tenant space/administration offices.

Shared facilities will include additional studios for music, dance, culinary and art programs, fitness activities, and a new theatre for cultural performances, school and community events. Each organization will access the shared facilities separately, via its own entrance, at different times of the day.

While the partners will operate independently of one another, a joint-use sharing agreement will clearly define separate and controlled shared space use between Columbus Centre and Dante including operations, maintenance and security between program areas. Certain functions, such as loading and recycling, will be combined to deliver cost savings.

Significant cost savings will also be achieved by collaborating on the construction of a single building, where we share planning, design, construction, operating and other costs.

A: The building is designed to allow for the sharing of programmatic spaces. The sharing of spaces will require the movement of students into the Columbus Centre spaces during school hours (the sharing of school spaces by Columbus Centre patrons will only occur during non-school hours).

The plans are being developed to control access from both the Dante Alighieri Academy students into the Columbus Centre area and from the patrons of the Columbus Centre into the Dante Alighieri Academy area. Strategically placed cross-corridor doors will be provided. The doors will be alarmed and will be equipped with security access. The details of the security system are currently being developed and both parties are reviewing their security requirements. Plans currently anticipate alarmed doors and a CCTV system that will be centrally monitored.

B. OTHER PROGRAM AND FACILITY CHANGES

A: Yes. Child care services now provided in the Columbus Centre will move in January 2018 to fully refurbished space in Dante Alighieri Academy, located directly adjacent to Villa Colombo, at
60 Playfair Avenue. The Casa Del Zotto child care facility will move to the new location at a later date.

The TCDSB will move elementary and middle school students from Regina Mundi Catholic School into the renovated space within Dante Alighieri Academy, alongside the daycare, after Dante Alighieri students move to the new joint-use facility.

A: Yes. An indoor running and walking track will be provided. The track, at 130 metres, will be 25 metres longer than the existing track, and is in addition to the half-kilometre outdoor pedestrian/running circuit. The indoor track, made possible through the sharing of designated spaces with Dante Alighieri Academy, has been included in direct response to feedback from the Villa Charities community.

A: The site has been reconfigured to create a pedestrian friendly environment with controlled parking, landscape boulevards and will allow for a connection to the playing field.

A soccer pitch or other playing field is not part of the current site plan. However, we may explore opportunities in the future to share some outdoor spaces with the TCDSB/Dante Alighieri Academy on their existing Playfair Avenue grounds.

The redevelopment includes a designated drop-off area, exterior patios, south-facing tiered patios with amphitheatres, a pedestrian circuit that is equipped with a parkours, and an urban forest that buffers the exterior landscape areas from the parking.

A: Yes. A new indoor pool that is virtually identical in size to the existing pool will be constructed.

The pool has been included in direct response to feedback from the Villa Charities community. In letters, calls and meetings, you have confirmed the important role our services, programs and facilities play in your lives.

The new pool will be available for lap swimming, aquafitness, lessons and leisure activities, and will include resistance jets. There will also be exclusive Columbus Centre-use changeroom facilities with private showers, sauna and whirlpool.

Existing pool size:             8.5 m x 18.5 m
Proposed pool size:         8.5 m x 17.5 m

A: During the planning process, we looked very closely at all current Columbus Centre facilities and programs, including the tennis, squash and racquetball courts. Some adjustments to existing facilities and programs were required. There is currently low utilization of these programs. It was not possible to accommodate the tennis courts on the shared site and due to the reconfiguration of adjoining lanes and parking.

In the meantime, the courts will remain in operation until just before demolition and construction begins in summer 2018.

A: The parking area will be reduced by 54 spaces, from 658 to 604. This will have no impact on the number of spaces available for Villa Colombo, Caboto Terrace and Casa Del Zotto.

A: The new Columbus Centre will be set in urban park-like surroundings, with an increase of 51 trees. The landscaping plan includes the planting of 129 new large-caliper trees and the removal of 78 existing trees, most of which are in fair to moderate condition based on the assessment of an independent arborist.

C. PLANNING, APPROVALS AND CONSTRUCTION

A:  Our target dates for the new joint-use facility are as follows:

  • Vacate the current Columbus Centre after June 30, 2018
  • Move into temporary facilities by July 2018
  • Demolition and construction of current site begins in summer 2018
  • Opening of new facility in fall 2020

Regarding the status of our approvals: We have currently applied for site plan approval, a draft plan of subdivision and rezoning. A development of this scale must undergo a thorough approval process at the City of Toronto. Together with the TCDSB, we are working with the City’s Planning Division to obtain the required approvals as quickly as possible.

A: The Columbus Centre/Villa Charities & Dante Alighieri Academy Redevelopment is overseen by a committee comprised of representatives from the Toronto Catholic District School Board and Villa Charities.

The new building will be tendered to a list of qualified contractors, and an independent Project Manager will also be hired. The redevelopment project will conform to the TCDSB tendering processes.

A: The Columbus Centre will remain open and fully operational until June 30, 2018. All programs and services will continue to be located in our current facility up to that time.

Villa Charities is actively working to locate sites in the local community for our cultural and athletic programs, our existing tenants, other services and administrative offices, with the goal of maintaining service continuity. Details on the new locations will be provided when they are confirmed.

Daycare services now provided in the Columbus Centre will move into refurbished space in Dante Alighieri Academy, located directly adjacent to Villa Colombo, at 60 Playfair Avenue.

A construction implementation plan is being prepared. The plan will identify construction sequencing, laydown areas, parking (for both the existing buildings on site and for the construction vehicles) and circulation routes for construction vehicles. The plans are created to mitigate the impact on the neighbours.

A: Consistent with our intention to provide continuity of the services offered at the Columbus Centre, we will make every attempt to ensure continuity of employment for the people who provide those services. In the event that there are temporary discontinuations of some services, we will develop individual plans for any employees affected.

A: We anticipate that there will be adequate parking both during and after the construction project.

A construction implementation plan is being prepared. The plan will identify construction sequencing, laydown areas, parking (for both the existing buildings on site and for the construction vehicles) and circulation routes for construction vehicles. The plans are created to mitigate the impact on the neighbours.

A: There are no plans to change other buildings on the campus at this time, including the independent seniors’ apartments and Villa Colombo.

A: Residents in the independent seniors’ apartments and Villa Colombo will be minimally impacted. As with any development project, there will be some temporary noise and dust during construction hours and we will work with the construction company to control and minimize the impact to the best of our ability and control. Columbus Centre/Villa Charities is actively searching for alternative facilities to use while the project is underway.

A construction implementation plan is being prepared. The plan will identify construction sequencing, laydown areas, parking (for both the existing buildings on site and for the construction vehicles) and circulation routes for construction vehicles. The plans are created to mitigate the impact on the neighbours. Construction hours will be limited and will fully conform to municipal bylaws, dust control measures, and street cleaning will likely form part of our approvals process.

A: A construction management plan will be developed as part of the approvals process. The plans are prepared with the input of the contractors and in consultation with the City. The project will be phased to mitigate the impact on the neighbourhood. We anticipate lane restrictions on Lawrence when the new street is connected to Lawrence Avenue and during the municipal connections for water, storm and sanitary sewers.

A: Part of the design and approvals process is the study of the existing infrastructure and the required improvements to the infrastructure that will be required because of the new joint-use facility. We do not anticipate a negative impact on the existing services as a result of the development. There may be short-term, temporary interruption of services when the new services are connected to the existing infrastructure.

A: The construction process will take approximately two to four months for the demolition and site preparation phase, and approximately 24 to 30 months for the construction of the new facility.

A: The building will be designed to exceed the required energy efficiency standards prescribed in the Ontario building code by 28%. An energy model of the building was created for the building. The detailed design of the building envelope and the mechanical and electrical systems are currently in progress. Green roofs, increased insulation values, premium glazing, LED lighting and energy-efficient HVAC systems are being utilized.

A: As the Church is owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, and not by the TCDSB or Villa Charities, any decision about its future is a matter for the Archdiocese and the Church alone.

The Archdiocese and Church community have recognized of their own accord that while the current site worked well in the past, it faces challenges today because of limited parking, rising costs related to an ageing building and other factors.

The Archdiocese has indicated that it is open to relocating the Church in the local community, including looking at opportunities within Villa Charities’ Lawrence-Dufferin campus. If the Archdiocese and Church wish to explore those opportunities, we have left that option open in our project planning. Any decision on whether to relocate will ultimately be theirs alone.

 

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Click below to read the real facts behind some of the myths about the Columbus Centre/Villa Charities & Dante Alighieri Academy Redevelopment project.