Face to face with Mauro Vescera

1. Could you elaborate more about the proposed Project of the Italian Culture Center including some figures / numbers? Our readers they still don’t understand much…

1.1 Who owns what and at what percentages?

1.2. What kind of debt is the Center looking at?

1.3. What about the existing mortgage, will the Center be mortgage free?

#1- Il Centro’s vision is to transform the Italian Cultural Centre into the Italian Cultural Community Centre. To create a culturally vibrant, community engaged and financially sustainable organization that connects and weaves Italian language, culture, and heritage into Vancouver’s multicultural society. Our vision is to build upon the permanent legacy of “Il Centro” and create a place that brings together the past, present and future of the Italian Canadian community.

The renewal proposal for “Il Centro” includes a new 80,000 sq. ft. Italian Cultural Centre with several new amenities. The Centro will double in size and add a theatre/cinema, gymnasium/sports complex and a new Reggio Emilia daycare facility. The proposed new complex would also include public plazas, a new Osteria , a larger Banquet Hall and 12 multi-purpose classrooms/meeting spaces. In addition, Il Centro would also have the option to own 25,000 sq. ft. of commercial and retail space as part of the project.

Much of the above depends on the City’s response to the project and the community consultation process that all City projects must undertake as part of the development process.

#1./1.2-The final ownership model would have il Centro owning the 80,000 new centre as well as an option to own the 25,000 of commercial and retail space at no cost. That is, the value of the rezoned facility would cover the construction costs of the new centre.

#1.3-Currently, Il Centro has a 1.6 million mortgage on its existing facility. The potential value of the rezoned facility would effectively eliminate the existing debt and create a revenue stream from the new commercial and retail space. Final values for the rezoned site are, of course, determined by the City of Vancouver’s planning department.

2. What do you think was the problem, why did the Donors vote against the proposal?

To begin I would like to thank all of the people who took the time to vote and participate in the consultation process. We recognize that there is a lot of passion, emotion, and history associated with the Centro and that change is always difficult. While 30% of the members did not support the resolution close to 70% were in favour of the initiative. The BC Societies Act rules ask for 75% approval, which unfortunately was not obtained.

3. What’s Bosa Development position?

At this point, as far as I know, Bosa Properties is assessing the project and their next steps, if any.

4. Some people are not happy with the architecture style because it does not represent anything in their opinion regarding Italian Culture and Heritage.

The initial proposal was the first step in a process that would include the creation of several working and advisory groups that would participate directly in the design detail and final aesthetic of the project. There are a lot of good ideas with respect to the design and these initial renderings were only a starting point and were meant to be built upon through member participation.

5. After the project was rejected “did not pass” do you still believe in it?

Yes I think it is a great opportunity for Il Centro and provides the community with an opportunity that respects the past, the founders of il Centro, engages the present and provides a new opportunity to secure the cultural legacy in perpetuity.

6. Did you try to approach the old generation as much as the youngest one? How many “community hall meetings” took place prior to the vote? Did you really do enough to inform the Italian / Canadian community?

Il Centro held 20 different sessions over the course of two years, including small focus groups, public presentations, and several open house opportunities. All of the information is on-line, in print and available upon request. To be honest we were disappointed in the low turn-out and the lack of participation in the consultation process, however we feel that we have provided ample opportunity for people of all generations to get involved in the renewal project.

7. Please tell us what the next steps are after the March 9th 2017 donors rejected the Project by a small margin?

At this point the Board of il Centro is taking some time to reflect on the process and project.

8. We are hearing rumors in the community that there is a petition to have another vote that is to be presented at tonight’s Board of Directors meeting. Is this possible? How many Donors would be required to sign the petition to succeed in achieving another vote? Is that possible?

Yes we are aware of these rumours. Under both the old Society Act as well as the new Societies Act, 10% of the members in good standing can requisition a general meeting of the voting membership.

9. I’m still very concerned with the decision that someone made to not allow the Marco Polo Newspaper the only Italian newspaper in British Columbia since 1974 into the meeting of March 9th 2017

The Board felt that only voting members could attend the EGM meeting on March 9th and felt that the presence of the press would make some people feel uncomfortable. That said, the Board has agreed to review this decision as there is a longing standing relationship with the Marco Polo.

10. Are you still happy with your position as Executive Director of IL CENTRO? What have been your greatest achievements during your time as a Director?

Yes, it has been a very interesting and exciting four years here at Il Centro.

The Italian Cultural Centre Society, Il Centro, has had a very exceptional year hosting over 760 different events including more than 150 different cultural initiatives and activities. The audience numbers for Il Centro’s cultural programs continue to grow, our Italian Language School enrollments have gone up and the organization`s financial performance has been quite strong over the past 12 months. Utilizing Il Centro`s core mandate `to promote Italian language, culture and heritage, and to share these values with other communities`, remains the baseline from which we have grown and has proven to be an effective marketing and promotion strategy for the organization. The public’s interest in the Italian cultural patrimony is significant and has helped attract visitors to the Centro in record numbers.

Over the past four years we have added many new activities and events including, building a community garden, the creation of a farmers market, starting an annual Italian Film Festival, a new food literacy and education program many new cultural collaborations and partnerships.

11. Let’s have a look on the future. What are the Center’s highlights for the second part of 2017?

2017 will likely include some capital upgrades for Il Centro, as the 40 year old facility requires a new roof and many upgrades to the general infrastructure of the site. With respect to our programming Il Centro is working on many exciting and new cultural collaborations (see Caboto program-attached).

Vancouver March 21st 2017


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