The Kiwanis Club should get a chance to negotiate a new, 20-year licensing agreement to operate Casa Loma, Toronto City Council has decided.
But the battle for control may not be over. Richard Wozenilek, chair of the castle's board, says the Kiwanians will insist on having voting control, something Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul's) vowed to fight as "totally, totally inappropriate" for a city-owned building.
An advisory committee had recommended setting up a new Casa Loma Trust to run the deteriorating facility, but after Kiwanis mounted a strong lobbying campaign,councillors backed away.
Mihevc said a poor governing structure is at the heart of the castle's troubles – the city owns and maintains the exterior while Kiwanis maintains the interior and runs programs.
Councillor Mike Del Grande (Ward 39, Scarborough Agincourt) said it would be inconsistent for the city to insist on a tightly crafted deal with Kiwanis: "We've done a lot of lousy deals in this city, and now suddenly the standard is different for this group." Council did adopt Councillor Howard Moscoe's motion to have the city review Casa Loma's budgets.
Wozenilek noted that under the new governance structure, still to be negotiated, the city is likely to appoint half the directors, although Kiwanis will insist on the tiebreaking vote.
"Why should we not have the ability to control what happens with the license? It only makes sense," he said.
"We haven't been operating this for 70 years to then turn around and act in a crazy fashion."