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Project Updates

Redevelopment Project Update From Villa Charities
President And CEO Anthony DiCaita

June 8, 2017

Dear Friends,

As the Columbus Centre/Villa Charities & Dante Alighieri Academy Redevelopment plan takes shape, I would like to update our community on a number of important issues.

Feedback we have received indicates that some community members are unaware of key changes and critical information concerning our project.

The new facility will:

  • Include an indoor swimming pool
  • Include an indoor running/walking track
  • Include a 435-seat multi-purpose community theatre
  • Expand the Columbus Centre’s useable space through a combination of exclusive-use and shared-use facilities
  • Have separate entrances for each organization, with secured doors preventing unauthorized access
  • Be set in urban park-like surroundings, with an increase of 51 trees
  • Be served by 54 fewer parking spaces overall, but with no change to the number of parking spaces for Villa Colombo or the seniors’ apartments
  • Expand Villa Charities’ mandate to honour, preserve and share Italian heritage, language and culture

New Pool and Track

The addition of a new pool and indoor track to the Columbus Centre responds directly 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.

You spoke, we listened. And we responded. The new pool will be virtually identical in size to the existing pool and will o er a variety of new programs and features for all ages. The indoor 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.

Increased Useable Space

Concerns have also been expressed about the sharing of facilities by Dante students and Columbus Centre customers. The new Columbus Centre and Dante Alighieri Academy will include both exclusive-use and shared-use facilities. This approach will significantly expand the total area available to both organizations and will provide all users with a wider range of activities and programming. A joint-use sharing agreement will be developed which clearly identifies when and how shared facilities will be used by each group.

In short, we lose nothing by sharing some spaces and, in fact, we now have the ability to o er much more.

Trees and Parking

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.

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.

Honouring Italian Heritage and Culture

Your feedback has also made it clear that the new Columbus Centre must support Villa Charities’ mission to honour, preserve and share Italian heritage, language and culture. We are absolutely committed to this mission, and this will be clearly reflected in our future programming, which will be enhanced with a new 435-seat multi-purpose community theatre. The new Columbus Centre will continue to serve as a community centre and cultural destination, enjoyed by both young and old, as it does today.

Since assuming the role of President and CEO of Villa Charities in January, I have been impressed with the passion of our community for this organization. Please be assured that, like you, I want the new Centre to offer the best possible facilities and programming to serve the needs and wishes of our entire community. Thanks in good part to your feedback, I am confident this will be achieved.

I look forward to maintaining an ongoing dialogue with you as the Redevelopment project advances.

To that end, I am pleased to be hosting weekly, open invitation meetings with our Columbus Centre customers and the Villa Charities community, which began June 7th. These sessions provide an opportunity for informal discussions in smaller groups. For information on how to participate in an upcoming session, please call 416-789-7011 or visit our website at villacharities.com.

In addition, we will soon launch a weekly newsletter to ensure you receive the latest Redevelopment updates, and will continue to provide other opportunities for dialogue.

Thank you for your ongoing feedback and support.


Anthony DiCaita
President and CEO
Villa Charities Inc.

Please click here to download a copy of the above letter.

Facility Updates for Redevelopment Project Announced at Community Consultation Meeting

At the Community Consultation Meeting hosted by Councillor Josh Colle on May 11, 2017, Villa Charities President and CEO Anthony DiCaita announced important updates to the Columbus Centre/Villa Charities and Dante Alighieri Academy Redevelopment, including a swimming pool and the plan to provide an indoor walking and running track. To view the full presentation from the meeting, please click here.

The proposed swimming pool in the new facility will be the same size as the current pool in the Athletic Centre, and will include resistance jets. The new pool will be available for lap swimming, aquafitness, lessons and leisure activities.

A preliminary solution has also been developed for an indoor walking and running circuit through the use of shared facilities within Dante Alighieri Academy. The proposed indoor circuit will be 130 metres, an increase in size compared to the current indoor track circumference of 105 metres.

Other key features of the health and fitness programs and services to be offered in the shared-use facility include:

  • Athletic facilities with state-of-the-art fitness studios for spin, aerobics and yoga
  • Exclusive Columbus Centre-use changeroom facilities with private showers, sauna and whirlpool
  • Massage and therapy clinics, child-minding and other programs
  • Triple gymnasium (Dante Alighieri), including bleachers and competition basketball and volleyball courts
  • Community use of school gymnasiums and walking circuit, as per sharing agreement

The new shared-use facility will be a reimagined space for Columbus Centre and Dante Alighieri Academy. The new state-of-the-art, intergenerational community hub is considered the largest and only co-development project of its kind currently underway in North America, and will better meet the needs and expectations of future generations and the communities they serve.

To see the announcement for the new facility updates, please click here.

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

Columbus Centre/Villa Charities & Dante Alighieri Academy Redevelopment Open House Recap

Villa Charities and the Toronto Catholic District School Board hosted an Open House on Tuesday, April 18 for the Columbus Centre/Villa Charities & Dante Alighieri Academy Redevelopment: An Intergenerational Community Hub. The Open House, which was held at the Columbus Centre, was attended by more than 300 people who gathered to learn more about the new shared-use facility. There was a presentation to highlight the design and features of this state-of-the art reimagined space, which will be a premier cultural and educational destination. Representatives from Villa Charities and the Toronto Catholic District School Board were on hand to answer questions and talk to Columbus Centre patrons and members of the community.

Thank you to everyone who attended and for your questions and comments. Please check our FAQs section on the website over the coming weeks for updates and additional information about the Redevelopment.

Photo Gallery

Our New Vision In 2020

The New Columbus Centre Comes To Life in a 3D Scale Model

The vision of the new shared-use Columbus Centre/Villa Charities and Dante Alighieri Academy Intergenerational Community Hub will come to life in a stunning new 3D scale model available to view in the Columbus Centre atrium beginning April 1.  The 1:100 scale model will showcase the revitalized, state-of-the art, four-story building and provide a preview of the new, fully modernized facilities that will be available at the Columbus Centre, such as improved fitness facilities, a street presence for our restaurant and a modern glass façade that will bring natural light into Columbus Centre cultural classrooms.

The model will also be available for the public to view at a joint Villa Charities/TCDSB Open House, which will be held at the Columbus Centre in the near future. Details will be announced at a later date.