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Columbus Centre Redevelopment (Oct. 23, 2016)

Villa Charities and TCDSB Unveil Bold Design for Shared Facility

Renewed Columbus Centre and Dante Alighieri Academy to feature dramatic façade, state-of-the-art facilities

Toronto (Nov. 23, 2016) – Villa Charities Inc. and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) today unveiled a design proposal for the combined new Columbus Centre and Dante Alighieri Academy Catholic Secondary School. The design includes a dramatic, three-story glass façade along Lawrence Ave., at the existing Columbus Centre location, with state-of-the-art cultural, athletic, dining, educational and other facilities along with a new performing arts theatre.

The design unveiling follows the joint submission of a Site Plan application to the City of Toronto on Nov. 1, 2016. This marks a major milestone in the renaissance of the Columbus Centre, the cultural heart of the GTA’s Italian Canadian community, and Dante Alighieri Academy.

“Villa Charities has taken a major step in creating a modern and vibrant central piazza for Italian-Canadians and others wishing to explore Italian culture,” says Eligio Gaudio, President and CEO, Villa Charities Inc. “We are excited to build an iconic new home for our organization that will keep our Italian heritage shining brightly in the GTA for generations to come.”

Gaudio added, “Partnering with the TCDSB in a combined facility opens new opportunities for Villa Charities to engage with the younger generation and thereby build a path to the future.”

Renderings of the proposed Columbus Centre design are available to view online at www.villacharities.com.

A draft Plan of Subdivision application will be submitted in the near future. Until approvals are received and demolition of the Columbus Centre begins, it is business as usual for the Columbus Centre and Dante Alighieri.

“Today marks an exciting new chapter for our organization and the community we serve,” says Aldo Cundari, Chair, Villa Charities Inc. “By advancing Villa Charities’ mission of celebrating and promoting Italian heritage, culture, language, arts, food and family values, the new Columbus Centre will be a destination for Italian-Canadians across the GTA and for everyone wishing to share in our rich culture.”

Toronto Catholic School Board Trustee Maria Rizzo, who has been a tireless champion for the new school and development in her Ward, says, “There is no place like this corner of Toronto where you can see the hard work of our ancestors, not only through the blood, sweat and tears but through our love of arts and culture. This is a beautiful legacy that will benefit our students and future generations to come.” 2

A joint Villa Charities/TCDSB Open House will be held at the Columbus Centre early in the New Year. Details will be announced at a later date.


New Columbus Centre to House Dramatically Enhanced Facilities

The new Columbus Centre will provide fully modernized facilities with programs similar to those provided now as well as new programs. 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, performing arts theatre and tenant space/administration offices. Key features include:

  • Major upgrades to fine arts, music and dance studios, and dramatically upgraded athletic facilities with state-of-the-art studios for spin, aerobic and other programs.
  • A contemporary culinary studio with digital learning technology, enabling live interaction with chef instructors in Italy and all over the world.
  • A street presence for Ristorante Boccaccio and the art gallery, which will front onto Lawrence Ave., with an outdoor patio dining area.
  • A modern glass façade that will bring natural light into Columbus Centre cultural class rooms, with 12-foot ceilings.

The Columbus Centre and Dante Alighieri Academy will each have their own entrances leading to both separate and shared spaces, and will operate independently of one another.

Shared facilities will include additional studios for music, dance, cooking and art programs, and a new theatre for cultural performances and school events.

Interim Columbus Centre Facilities During Construction

Interim facilities will be provided before and during the construction phase. Cultural arts, daycare and athletic centre patrons can be assured of service continuity, without interruption. A comprehensive relocation plan is in development and members will be notified of the new locations when confirmed. Below are details available at this time:

  • Temporary facilities will be provided for music, dance and art programs, tenant space and Villa Charities administration, either elsewhere on campus or nearby.
  • Temporary facilities will be provided for Athletic Centre programs and gyms in high quality space within close proximity of the Columbus Centre; options are being
  • Explored for the continuation of swimming programs during construction and for a new swimming pool as part of a second phase of the campus redevelopment.
  • Daycare services now provided in the Columbus Centre and Casa Del Zotto will move in early September 2017 to refurbished space in Dante Alighieri Academy, located directly adjacent to Villa Colombo, at 60 Playfair Ave.
  • Opportunities are being explored to temporarily relocate the Joseph D. Carrier Gallery, Ristorante Boccaccio and Caffè Cinquecento.

About Villa Charities

Villa Charities Inc. is a registered charity that celebrates and promotes the Italian Heritage, Culture, Language, Arts, Food, and Family Values. For more than 40 years across the GTA, Villa Charities has provided care for seniors and offered educational and cultural programs in music, dance, visual arts, culinary arts, athletics and more. The Villa Charities family includes Villa Colombo Services for Seniors in Toronto; Villa Colombo Vaughan/Di Poce Centre; Caboto Terrace, Casa Del Zotto and Casa Abruzzo apartments for independent seniors; the Columbus Centre; and Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery. For more information, visit www.villacharities.com.

About the Toronto Catholic District School Board

The Toronto Catholic District School Board educates more than 92,000 students from diverse cultures and language backgrounds in 201 Catholic elementary and secondary schools, serving over half-a-million Catholic school supporters across the City of Toronto. As the world’s largest publicly funded Catholic school system, we educate students in an inclusive learning community rooted in the love of Christ, where they are challenged to grow in grace and knowledge and to lead lives of faith, hope and charity. At Toronto Catholic we transform the world through witness, faith, innovation and action.

For more information:

For Villa Charities

Kathleen Sloan Don Hogarth

Director, Marketing and Communications Hogarth Communications

416.789.7011 ksloan@villacharities.com 416.565.8920 don@hogarthpr.com

For the TCDSB

John Yan

Senior Coordinator of Communications

416.200.4332 John.yan@tcdsb.org

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