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Toronto Catholic District School Board

A Renaissance Begins at Lawrence and Dufferin:
A New Dante Alighieri Academy and
Columbus Centre for Culture and the Arts
The Toronto Catholic District School Board and Villa Charities Inc. are pleased to
announce a joint development project to serve the educational, cultural and recreational
needs of the neighbourhood surrounding Dufferin Street and Lawrence Avenue. A special
signing ceremony is being held today at 3:00 p.m. the Columbus Centre (901 Lawrence
Avenue West) to launch the historic project.

The approximately $50 million redevelopment project is considered to be the first of its
kind in Canada and will accommodate a new school for Dante Alighieri Academy,
Columbus Centre, Carrier Art Gallery, Day Care and other services currently provided by
both organizations. The construction of the state-of-the-art multipurpose educational and
cultural arts centre is the largest and only co-development project of this magnitude
currently underway in North America. It also provides much needed capacity to service
Toronto’s burgeoning performing and fine arts community.

“The Board has enjoyed a long-standing educational and cultural partnership with Villa
Charities,” says TCDSB Chair Ann Andrachuk. “This community urgently needs a new
facility to house the students from Dante Alighieri Academy, and the redevelopment will
enable us to proceed in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration to provide a variety of
educational, cultural and volunteer opportunities for students and their families.”

“Villa Charities has been developing culturally sensitive community services at Lawrence
and Dufferin for 40 years,” says Villa Charities Inc. Chair Nina Perfetto. “A lot has
changed during this time. The Columbus Centre neighbourhood and campus continue to
experience shifting demographics and intensification; we are looking at this collaborative
opportunity to revitalize and prepare our campus for the next generation.”

Toronto Catholic School Board Trustee Maria Rizzo, who has been a long time champion
for the development in her Ward, says, “There is no place like this corner of Toronto
anywhere in the world – this centre reflects the history of our ancestors, our hard work, our
blood, sweat and tears, to leave a legacy to benefit future generations.”

The first phase of the project, which includes the construction of the new school, is
targeted for completion 2016. For Dante Alighieri, the new 1,300 pupil place facility will
include shared use of a theatre, dance studios, and expanded fitness and music facilities.
Dante is currently housed in three different facilities in the area.

The re-envisioned Columbus Centre will allow Villa Charities to better assist in serving the
cultural, wellness, artistic, and recreational needs and desires of its community.


At the Columbus Centre



Jessica from Dante Alighieri speaks about what the new school will mean to students.


Trustees Frank D'Amico, Sal Piccininni, Ann Andrachuk, Director Bruce Rodrigues and area Trustee Maria Rizzo with plans for the new facility.



Director of Education Bruce Rodrigues and Maria Rizzo, Trusteee for Ward 5, sign the Memorandum of Understanding for the joint development project.

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All the key players from Villa Charities, Toronto Catholic District School Board celebrate the start of the jont development project.