Madison Avenue to get a new cultural centre?
Estonian community reveals plans for two-storey heritage building in the Annex
Toronto’s Estonian community announced plans to relocate their cultural home base from East York to the Annex, with a design that incorporates the heritage building at 11 Madison Ave. Several Estonian organizations will be consolidated into one in order to pay for the new cultural hub.
The cultural group is looking to purchase the land from the city, and have been in talks about the proposal for years.
Ward 20 councillor Joe Cressy said they’ve agreed to a proposal that meet’s all the city’s objectives. The plan calls for a two-storey building that will respect the existing character of the Heritage Conservation District on Madison Avenue. Cressy said the neighbourhood has been supportive of the plan for the new cultural centre, which will include a museum, theatre and gallery space, with retail on the main floor.
“This is the Bloor St. Cultural Corridor, formally designated by the city with 17 cultural organizations running along it,” said Cressy. “We have a long history of being a diverse and inclusive community and far too often we lose cultural groups as new developments come in.”
The plan hinges on selling the Broadview property in order to purchase and build on the lot next to the building on 11 Madison. It will house a number of groups, some of which are also financially supporting the bid, including Estonian Credit Union, the Estonian Federation of Canada and Estonian House. Tartu College is also involved and houses a neighbouring student residence on Bloor Street.
Longtime Annex resident and member of the Estonian community Anita Genua is supportive of the new centre.
“I think it does address the changing needs of our community,” she said. “There was a real sense of cultural preservation because, if we didn’t preserve a 5,000-plus-year-old culture, no one else was going to.” Veiko Parming, VP of the Estonian House, wants that to continue. “We have the opportunity, to build a consolidated community centre that would provide the space that we need for the next 50 years in a way that the Estonian House today does not.”
The move from 958 Broadview Ave. is due to the need for capital repairs that were too expensive for the group to manage. The Broadview property will be parcelled with three neighbouring properties owned by the Estonian Federation of Canada to facilitate the Annex purchase.
We have a long history of being a diverse and inclusive community.”
Artist rendering for new Estonian Centre planned for Madison Avenue