Castle contract rife with dispute

Kiwanis Club must agree to action or lose 20-year contract

Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma has until July 31 to fix its relationship with the city or lose its contract to run Toronto’s famous castle.

Kiwanis has operated the city-owned castle since 1937, but disputes over the current 20-year management agreement have put that partnership at risk.

On July 7, the city voted to give Kiwanis until the end of the month to agree in writing to a series of actions, including developing a financial plan on how the group plans to fulfill its contract obligations to fix up the castle’s interior.

The city contends Kiwanis is woefully behind on a commitment to spend $1.6 million fixing the hunting lodge, visitors centre, dining facilities, and flooring.

As well, Kiwanis must agree to a city audit of the Casa Loma Improvement Fund set aside for internal improvements.

The last sticking point: the removal of chair Richard Wozenilek.

The city alleges Wozenilek is in a conflict, having represented the board as Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma chair while at the same time representing Casa Loma on legal issues and billing for those services.

The mayor has asked Wozenilek to resign as board chair and so far the board has refused this request.

In a June 30 letter to the city, Kiwanis Club president Joachim Gerschkow acknowledged Wozenilek’s dual role but maintained there was no conflict of interest, as they were well aware of his legal work.

Mayor Miller, on the advice of Kiwanis, appointed Wozenilek as board chair.

“It’s basic law in Ontario,” Miller told reporters at council. “If you have the power to appoint, you have the power to revoke.”

Wozenilek declined to comment on the matter, and CEO of Casa Loma Virginia Cooper referred the Town Crier’s call to Gerschkow, who did not reply to an email request for an interview.

Councillor Joe Mihevc, a non-voting member of the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma board, said the issues go beyond governance.

“Kiwanis seems to have a sense of ownership of the (castle) that has prevented healthy dialogue,” said Mihevc. “At the end of the day, Casa Loma is owned by the city not Kiwanis.”

The city is two years into a 20-year management agreement with Kiwanis to run the castle.

“The city is considering if the agreement has been violated,” Mihevc said.

Miller said he wants to ensure the castle’s future is managed properly.

“It simply hasn’t been able to achieve its potential as a tourist destination and destination for Torontonians to know their own history and to have a terrific place to hold functions,” Miller told the Town Crier July 7. “My worry is our partner, because it’s all volunteers, doesn’t have the capacity to do what’s needed.”

“I hope the steps we have taken produce that. If not, the city will be moving very aggressively to ensure that (the castle) meets that potential.”

City Manager Joseph Pennachetti said Kiwanis has verbally agreed to meet the city’s requirements, but will now need to commit in writing by July 31.

About this article:

By: Kris Scheuer and Joshua Freeman
Posted: Jul 13 2010 11:42 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto