King's University land buy will help Catholic church pay sex abuse debt
By Jonathan Juha
October 30, 2018
|An aerial view shows new King’s University College lands |
A Catholic affiliate of Western University is doubling its campus size, acquiring lands from the area diocese in London in a deal that will help to restore a nearby seminary and pay off debts including from clergy sex-absue lawsuits.
The deal will see King’s University College take over 7.3 hectares of land east of Waterloo Street and north of Huron Street near St. Peter’s Seminary, a large green space many area residents think of as parkland.
The land transfer from the Diocese of London, announced Monday, negates the prospect of commercial development on the land, which a school official said wouldn’t fit with the neighbourhood, in favour of future educational use and green space, a move the area’s city councillor applauded.
“I think the positive of this is, hopefully, a really compatible use of the land with the community,” Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire said.
“At the end of the day, the community will have access to the area, not just as an educational institution, but as green space and an open space.”
Four years in the making, the land transfer gives King’s room for future expansion, Sauro Camiletti, the school’s acting principal and academic dean, said as the acquisition was announced.
King’s won’t say how much the deal is costing, but said it’s launching a $15-million fundraising campaign expected to cover the acquisition.
Already, the school’s alumni association has committed $300,000 and the school’s student council $5 million.
“We have been at our present space for over 60 years, and sometimes you are in a position where space dictates the function, rather than the function dictating the space,” said Camiletti, who touted the move as historic for the school.
This new space “will allow us to develop accommodations that serve the future needs of the college and that are designed specifically for those needs,” he said.
The Diocese of London, which administers Catholic parishes across Southwestern Ontario, says it will use the money from the deal to continue the restoration of St. Peter’s, a nearly century-old building that has trained hundreds of priests and lay people for the London diocese and other dioceses across Canada.
The diocese is in the midst of a $30-million revamp of the historic seminary building.
Neighbourhood attachment to the partially treed, landmark site was underlined two years ago when residents, alarmed by tree-cutting on the property, contacted city hall and the media.
The city briefly ordered a stop to the work, because the seminary didn’t have a permit, but ultimately green-lighted the tree-cutting to make way for work that included a new driveway.
Camiletti said it will take time for plans for the land to be announced, but any plans the school develops will have the community in mind.
“This is intended to serve the community, not only our college,” he said.
Established by the dicocese in 1954, King’s began as Christ the King College with one building on about 4.5 hectares.
WHAT THEY SAID:
“King’s is on the forefront of becoming one of the best university colleges in the country, so the more land we can have, the more we can expand our programs, facilities and offer a better student experience to students, staff and faculty.”
— Hadia Fiaz, student council president
“This transfer of lands will enable us, in new ways, to continue the vision of my predecessors, especially Bishop Michael Fallon, who aimed to create a hub of Catholic learning and formation in Southwestern Ontario.”
— Bishop Ronald Fabbro, Diocese of London