May-10-2012 The Star – Toronto residents weigh in on the future of Casa Loma, which needs $20 million in repairs

(Original link at the Toronto Star.)

May 10, 2012

Valerie Hauch 
and Jayme Poisson

Canada’s most famous castle is “at the tipping point” and badly in need of $20 million worth of external repairs, says Lyle Hall, a spokesman for HLT Advisory Inc. which was hired by Casa Loma Corp.

The City of Toronto created CLC to manage the iconic century-old residence and estate buildings constructed by Sir Henry Pellatt and come up with recommendations for their future. Hall spoke at a Thursday night community meeting held at Grace Church on the Hill, not far from the castle, attended by CLC members, area residents, people in the business and entertainment community, Casa Loma staff, city councillors and staff.

Hall said that estimates for interior repairs are unknown at this point. But the “capital need is urgent,” he warned.

Revenues from admittance to Casa Loma and from special event rentals come to around $1 million after expenses.

The Casa Loma Corp. has a mandate to suggest long-term use and ownership of the historical buildings to the City of Toronto and will be making a recommendation to council’s executive committee June 12.

One member of the audience had reservations about the stewardship of Casa Loma, which was long managed by the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma.

Trelawny Howell, great grandniece of Pellatt, told the Star, “they’ve had it for 80 years and they’ve made a mess of it for 80 years.”

The castle should be used “day and night . . . it should be the go-to-place in the city,” she says, with multiple uses, including theatre, teaching, exhibitions, perhaps a jazz supper club with a dance hall, which was one of its uses many decades ago.

When the city took over control from the Kiwanis Club, the plan was to “stabilize” the aging relic before deciding what to do with it.

Area councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) said the castle “brings in a fair amount of revenue through its events operations,” with the problem being to find the money to pay for the backlogged repairs.

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