June-20-2010 The Star – Casa needs new King

June 20, 2010

After 70 years of serving on its battlements, the Kiwanis Club should surrender its hold on Casa Loma. The service club’s stewardship of Sir Henry Pellatt’s fanciful estate, a prominent landmark owned by the City of Toronto, has been plagued by missed renovation deadlines, wasted potential and unmet promises. And it just isn’t good enough to blame the recession, as does Richard Wozenilek, chair of Casa Loma’s board of trustees.

Pellatt’s neo-Gothic extravagance remains a popular Toronto tourist attraction. But the faux castle, built complete with battlements and secret passageways in 1914, is in desperate need of upgrades and repairs. The board of trustees, composed of city appointees and Kiwanis delegates, was supposed to handle interior renovations, but it has fallen far short of its commitments.

City staff is recommending several changes, including creation of a new joint working group, fresh auditing, more board meetings and a new financial plan, with Kiwanis pushed out if it fails to comply. But given its failures to date, the service club has already been granted all the consideration it deserves. Mayor David Miller is right in urging that the city take charge and start over, with a new operator in charge. Surely there are private-sector firms with expertise in tourism and the hospitality industry that are willing to run this remarkable estate.

Torontonians should be grateful to Kiwanis for its work over the decades in preserving Casa Loma. But the club can do one final service for the city by stepping aside and making the transition to a new

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