Saint Rita at Mary Lake Long Term Care proposal

TORONTO – Mary Lake Shrine of Our Lady of Grace is a popular “Religious Retreat Centre”, located some thirty (30) kilometers north of Toronto, on Keele St., in the township of King, North of Vaughan, York Region. Originally “structured as a country home by Sir Henry Pellat, the builder/owner of Casa Loma, in 1920. 

Augustinian fathers later established a “monastery” with a church on the site. The entire 800 acres (427 hectares) is an environmental, historic, cultural and architectural site of Heritage significance. It appears to be a part of the lands cited as part of Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) debacle from which the Ford government is walking back.

On Friday, October 20, we received a Press Release from the Ministry of Long-Term Care. Yes, the same one that is being held responsible by many, rightly or wrongly, for the “excessive number” of deaths during Covid- 19. (read the full text clicking here)

As a journalistic organization, we are innately skeptical of two things: coincidences and claims of satisfying collective needs by the “authors of solutions”. In short, we look for the answer to the question “cui bono?”

The announcement is self-congratulatory and self-serving, to say the least – “normal fare” in announcements made on a Friday afternoon. It reads, “The government is fixing long term care to ensure Ontario’s seniors get the quality of care and quality of life they need and deserve, both now and in the future”.

This is one of 67 such projects across Ontario. As usual, the adage “The devil is in the detail” applies. There’s a hint in the release: “The province is taking innovative steps to get LTC homes built, including modernizing its funding model, selling unused lands with the requirement that LTC homes be built on portions of the properties…”

The Statement does not explain requirements for operating licenses, nor the urgencies associated with transferring/expanding the geographical service area of the license granted to the operators of the St. Rita LTC, until recently located in Richmond Hill, to a subsidiary campus in King Township (pop. c. 28,000 inhabitants spread over a territory of c. 333 km2). – the Marian Shrine of Mercy at Mary Lake.

It does contain statements of support – “political authentication” – from MPP Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Steve Pellegrini, Mayor of the Township of King, and Quinto Annibale, Board Member of the Augustinian Fathers. This is curious, given that on Thursday, the government reversed its decision respecting development on ORM lands.

“Governance procedure and correctness” has surfaced as an issue. In fairness, the Corriere is in the process of ascertaining the due diligence required in cases such as this. It is being inundated with data and perceptions offered by members of the public familiar with both.

In full disclosure, and in the interests of transparency, the newspaper and its publisher were litigated several years ago by Mr. Annibale. He has since drawn other (not from us) media attention to himself for a number of reasons – all on the public record.