City purchases defunct Davisville bowling club from developer

Historic green space to become public park after two years of battles


Published:

Councillor Josh Matlow and local resident Derek Tilley stand on what remains of the lawn bowling club

The fate of the 92-year-old Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club has finally been decided, following two years of battles arduously fought by its shareholders, the Davisville community and the local councillor. But some questions surrounding the validity of the sale may remain. 

The now defunct lawn bowling club was originally founded in 1923, but due to a dwindling membership, club members, led by president Phillip Foubert, resolved to sell its land in 2013. 

Now, Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow has announced that the city has purchased a parcel of the land at 196 Manor Rd. E. from developer Michael Volpentesta, who allegedly beat the city to the punch in a bid to purchase the property in 2014.

The land will be turned into a public park, and Volpentesta will also build a single home on a fifth of the site. Coun. Matlow did not disclose how much the city paid Volpentesta for the property. 

Both Georgina Rayner and her husband Wally served as president of the club in the 1990s, yet Rayner said the decision to sell to Volpentesta was made without their knowledge or consultation with many of the club’s shareholders. 

“I want it to be a park,” said Rayner. “I just don’t want the city to pay all that money out when it wasn’t necessary.”

Rayner asserts that the club’s 1923 articles of incorporation state that the property should either have been returned to Glebe Presbyterian Church (which donated the lands and no longer exists) or turned over to the city if the club ceased operations. 

Post City asked Coun. Matlow’s office if they had followed up on Rayner’s argument.

According to Andrew Athanasiu, senior policy advisor to Coun. Matlow, a city solicitor did find some merit to her claim.

“There is truth to it, that it was part of the articles of [incorporation]” said Athanasiu. 

“We looked into this and were advised that this isn’t something that we could pursue. It would be a civil matter between the shareholders and the club or the shareholders and the liquidator [Phillip Foubert].” 

City of Toronto documents also show that in June 1998 Rayner approached the city to donate the property for a nominal sum “to ensure that the lands remain as open space/parkland” when the club was gone.

Rayner said the city’s request for health permits, etc., proved to be too difficult for some of the older members, so they abandoned the attempt. 

According to Rayner, the announcement that the land was sold to Volpentesta was made at a shareholders meeting at Leaside Memorial Gardens in 2014. 

“We went there because we were angry that someone was making a profit,” she said. 

Coun. Matlow said he and several other people holding proxies tried to attend the meeting but were barred entry. 

“While I’m delighted that the community and I were successful in protecting the vast majority of this green space … I still believe that a bright light needs to be shone on the dealings between the club and the developer predating the sale to the city,” he said. 

Local resident and former board member Derek Tilley said the sale is still a win for the community.

“This area is in dire need of more green space, and it will benefit local families for many generations to come,” he added. 

Michael Volpentesta and his lawyer Jayson Schwarz declined to comment on this story. Phillip Foubert did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time.

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