November 20, 2018
930 Progress Avenue
Scarborough, Ontario. M1G 3T5
November 17, 2018
ARMEN ONTARIO of AGBU INC. Statement on Toronto Facility - Focusing on the Facts
Last month, Armen-Ontario of AGBU Inc. shared with Diocesan and Holy Trinity Armenian Church leadership our plans to sell the Toronto Center to Centennial College and relocate our operations over the next several years to a more centralized location. Since then, we have been stunned by the mischaracterization of the property sale, and the spread of incomplete and inaccurate information, leading to unnecessary tensions in the community. The AGBU community in Toronto and the Holy Trinity Armenian Church deserve better.
Importantly, Diocesan and Church leaders have known for several years that Armen Ontario of AGBU Inc. was considering a relocation: its location was no longer meeting the AGBU community’s geographic needs; the costs of maintaining the Center were staggering; and the Church was increasingly duplicating AGBU’s cultural and social activities with no efforts to collaborate or partner with AGBU. Over the years, these issues, including the potential sale of the Armen Ontario of AGBU Inc. Center, have been openly discussed with church leaders.
Another important fact church leaders have neglected to mention is their own concerns that the present location was no longer the right one for their followers, as the demographics of the area have changed over the past decade; at one point, there was discussion to sell the two properties jointly. This would have allowed both the Church and Armen Ontario of AGBU Inc. to relocate to a neighborhood closer to where Armenians live and work, providing for more comprehensive and practical programming. Unfortunately, no constructive steps were ever taken to address the legitimate issues Armen Ontario of AGBU Inc. continued to raise, and at no time did the Church leaders show the sense of urgency that they have shown in the last 10 days. Moreover, despite their current claims of the need for having AGBU next door, the Church just last year established its own non-profit social and cultural center, Barev Center, with a mission similar to AGBU.
We are saddened and troubled by the lack of meaningful communication and action over these past several years. We have offered numerous options for collaborative resolutions to both the programmatic and financial challenges the Center was facing. This included allowing Church committees to exclusively use a third of the Center at a modest cost; even that was never fully paid, and the Church eventually vacated the premises. There has been no interest in working in the spirit of partnership that one would have expected.
Amid these discussions, it is critical to underscore that Armen Ontario of AGBU Inc. is not selling and abandoning; AGBU is committed to maintaining and growing its activities in the Toronto area, as reflected in the many projects and programs being contemplated by the next generation. We will continue to best serve the community’s needs, and as these needs change, our means of addressing them must adapt.
It is also important to note that the funds from this sale will be directed into meaningful and relevant programs, activities and operations that benefit the Toronto Armenian community in the short and long-term.
Finally, the Church’s operations will not be impacted in any way, including the use of existing access and the full parking areas of both properties; these cannot legally be altered without the Diocese’s agreement, so they will continue exactly as they are now. Centennial College has already reached out to the Diocese and has given its reassurances. It has also proposed negotiations to purchase the Church property and allow the Church a long period to relocate, should it wish to proceed.
Despite the unnecessary acrimony, we will continue to do as we have done for decades by addressing the needs of our members and supporters, as well as supporting our Church and her mission.
Armen Ontario of AGBU Inc.