Report on Casa Loma's future due soon

City will have to decide if Kiwanis Club will continue to run the city-owned castle or if new management will be brought in

Will the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma be allowed to continue to run the city-owned icon or will someone else be given keys to the famous castle?

Last July 7, council voted to take steps to terminate the club’s management agreement if a handful of conditions were not met in writing by the end of the month.

Now it’s eight months later and the city’s deadline has come and gone. However, the the Town Crier has learned that city and the club have been meeting and city staff will be producing a progress report, along with recommendations on what to do, will come to the city’s Executive Committee in April or May.

“We are working with Kiwanis regarding Casa Loma,” said Michael Williams general manager of Economic Development and Culture, who council charged with creating a dispute resolution process between the two parties.

This progress report will also contain recommendations on what action city council should take regarding its current contract with Kiwanis, which has run the castle since 1937.

Kiwanis’s 2008-signed contract includes a signed agreement which would see the club fix up the castle’s interior while the city would spend millions on repairing the exterior. But according to last year’s report, Kiwanis has missed a number of agreed upon deadlines.

The city voted to have Kiwanis to report back by the end of September 2010 with a financial plan to meet its contract obligations. The city also instructed the deputy city manager’s office to conduct an audit of Casa Loma’s operations and finances.

The city would not confirm if these actions were undertaken, but the status of any audit and financial plan are expected to be part of the upcoming staff report.

“Our goal is to address all the issues,” said Williams.

The city also insisted Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma remove board chair Richard Wozenilek over what the city deems a conflict of interest on his part. But the club’s board refused.

“Keel Cottrelle (the law firm at which Wozenilek is a partner) billed an additional $111,000 from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009,” according to city manager Joseph Pennachetti’s July 5, 2010 written briefing to city council. “Billings reflect that the chair personally worked on behalf of Casa Loma during this period including writing the Conflict of Interest Policy that exempted his firm. In accordance with the procedure bylaw approved by (Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma) as of July 1, 2008, any board member having an interest in a decision before the board must declare an interest.”

As of March 30, Wozenilek hasn’t budged.

“I’m still the chair and I’m happy about it,” he told the Town Crier.

While local councillor Joe Mihevc couldn’t speak in detail about the ongoing issue between the city and Kiwanis, he is concerned about Casa Loma’s future.

“Casa Loma is one of the most important city assets,” Mihevc said March 30. “Our obligation as a city is to make sure it is well run, well managed and the jewel is should be.”

However, this issue doesn’t seem to be on Mayor Rob Ford’s radar at the moment.

“It’s not something our office is looking into at this time,” Ford’s press secretary Adrienne Batra told the Town Crier.

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By: Kris Scheuer
Posted: Mar 30 2011 5:36 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto