Observations while volunteering our time at Eesti Maja
Kommentaarid on kirjutatud EWR lugejate poolt. Nende sisu ei pruugi ühtida EWR toimetuse seisukohtadega.
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Looking forward to a new home15 Mar 2017 20:32
I think we cannot be confused as to whether our attachment is to our community or the EH. Mine is to the community and I await a facility we can be proud of. As sad as it is, there is a need to consolidate. Why not on Madison, where there is a thriving Tartu College. TC is solvent, which I am not sure EH house.
Concerned16 Mar 2017 09:41
Lets hope that this volunteer group doesn't get rudely told to "shut up and sit down" on March 29, as the Estonian House Board has done with anyone else who has raised questions about their past
activities. However, the Bank board does appear to be dead set on getting their loans back from the EM so a sale of EM seems inevitable as ETCU controls the existing/known shares. Too bad that community consultations did not take place before these irreversible decisions were made. This meeting is yet again designed to allow these groups to say they met with the community without allowing the community a word on how this process plays out, causing a major and perhaps irrevesible split.

Those concerned should contact the bank and EFC to let them know how they feel. The bank is sensitive to how their membership feels about their unwelcome meddling in community affairs.
To "Concerned"17 Mar 2017 22:05
I have attended all town halls and meetings and don't recall anyone being treated rudely. The discussions have been open, transparent and friendly. Insofar as the bank is concerned, if it has lent money to Eesti Maja, it should seek repayment per the terms of the loan. That's how finance works.
Also very concerned18 Mar 2017 07:35
The EM meetings I attended did not allow for open discussion and any dissent was shut down quickly. The dismissive and harsh EM responses to the Friends of Estonian House volunteer group's efforts are proof of this ongoing attitude and they are being observed and well noted by the community. The massive bank loan that EM has squandered is also on the minds of bank membership and community radars as will be their performance on this issue. The time has finally come for respectful and open discussion- including those who may not agree with your positions.
Ingrid16 Mar 2017 06:10
really well written article. Outlines the lost projects... the costs in trying to get those projects to work.. and shows that our LARGE Estonian House at times cannot even meed the needs of our community on Saturdays... so how can a smaller foot print location ... with subway below it ... and no parking... be able to address the needs of our community?
I cannot even imagion how many restrictions to construction will be laid out during construction... since the construction must ensure no disruption to the subway system... with weight restrictions or and also what time of day the construction would be allowed for the safety of the passengers under ground... now I understand why the design was more an open space...

There is so little parking in the Tartu College area... you WILL lose students...You will lose seniors.... our community will NOT be as vibrant.

Estonian organizations will use other facilities instead.

I think that many years ago the board of the Estonian house, where it seems no one understood maintenance of a commercial structure... and thus perhaps just hired a person to just "patch" the place up.

Really the board should just focus on their energey and funds on hiring staff who know how to Market the property, and who know how to hire competent staff to give structural integrity reports... and also roofing assessments...

And the companies that get hired need not be Estonian because it seems that whenever we hire an Estonian (and not go out to tender) then really we have been ripped off... we need a Building manager (not necessarily and Estonian) who knows how to put out Request for Proposals, and can over see and manage contractors... you can have a marketing person who is not Estonian to market it to the non-Estonian crowd... Really if any board member who has a business...they would look for the best person to manage a multi-million dollar asset properly and STOP hiring their friends, and family... and really there should be rules that the board members should NOT be deciding who gets hired... except for the Building manager and a Liason person for our Estonian Community... get a competent NON Estonian to start taking care of the asset with a proven experience... because years of no RFP's and no fund raising and no applications to the city or the Hydro (for rebates on energy efficiency incentives) or applications to the city water (low flow toilets to keep costs down) or fund to maintain our heritage buidlings... and finally like the volunteers who asked the city to fund the roof replacement... How is it the board is not really representing the people who voted them to maintain our VALUABLE asset and allows mis-management to erode it's value and ignore for YEARS the necessary cost in up-keep....
lauluvend16 Mar 2017 08:12
sadly the eesti maja does not have a great business model and it is not covering its costs. all community groups mentioned in this story pay significant rent to use eesti maja. these rents are financed by sihtkapital and likely amount to over one million dollars in the last 10-15 years. despite paying rents our groups often get bumped when a non-esto paying customer comes along. this is not fair or sustainable. our community needs all the facts so it can have rational discussions and make sound long term decisions.
looking ahead with imagination16 Mar 2017 14:23
Thank you for the detailed update. The participant observations are relevant and encouraging.

EM sought an alliance with developers that proved out of synch with zoning priorities for the quiet neighbourhood.

Has anyone looked into funding and support for restoring and renovating the heritage property as such, i.e. the Chester Public School, in the Romanesque architectural style, and the Estonian Canadian heritage site? A mix of the 1905 era, and the fifties-sixties, such as the city prides itself in preserving in its architecture as a testimony to its diverse history?

Please see a sample of the interest below. And yes, mid-fifties design is of vintage architectural interest. So are "hybrid" designs. What's been the thinking on this?


For anyone who'd like to dig deeper into the context of the city's architecture and history, there's a fascinating introduction in the popular Toronto Architecture: A City Guide. "Highly readable, well-illustrated and clearly organized" writes the Toronto Star. It includes a tour through the Bloor Street district, and why not Broadview-Danforth? Ours is a prime neighbourhood. The land is very valuable. What’s the plan for the area north of Riverdale, or The Danforth, or Greektown, with its Independence Parade? A new edition of the book is on its way in 2017. I'd like to see all 16 copies currently available at the Toronto Public Library signed out before the EM meeting!
to imagination17 Mar 2017 08:30
I checked out your link. Our present Estonian House in 2012 is described as a seniors home: "A senior citizen's home has grown up, over, in front of and behind it." While the redesign was modern in the 60s, this is what people see today, an old folks home. Not an appealing rental for today's generation.

I am not against a semi-retro design that you propose, but it has be done with a fresh style, modern take. It could be cool. BUT how to address the sagging building, old electrical circuitry, the antique poorly functioning boiler, the out of date halls and rooms?

What could Alar Kongats do with a redesign of the old Estonian House, to make it appealing to today's and future generations? THAT would be a true test of the metal of an award winning architect.

Also, don't we have many amazing award winning Estonian architects? I'm not hearing their take on things.
imagination17 Mar 2017 11:02
I'm glad you checked it out and commented. There's more to address your points in the links below, and to my knowledge the heritage links (I see two actually) were never addressed, or if they were, not publicly. Alar Kongats is/was involved in work with Jaan Meri on the Tartu College residence, as I recall reading in EWR or EE, and he declined to comment on the EM in the Q & A after his lecture there. But he did show slides of restorative work he'd done, and it was not on the large scale shown below on the historic schoolhouse in Yorkville. The Chester Schoolhouse in EM dates from 1891 and if you scroll to the "Ex-Montrealer Girl, Feb. 20, 2015" in the forum there's a "photo" that describes the still existing and valued properties of "the oldest school structure in East York". Romanesque architecture, of which the EM Chester Schoolhouse is an instance, abounds in the Annex area around Tartu College if you want to see what it looks like spruced up. e.g. the York Club.

In EM in East York the Romanesque style is special and the thing is, a double case could be made to extend the concept of heritage preservation, if it hasn't been already, to structures that double as heritage sites for Toronto's fabled ethnocultural communities. As it happened EM preserved much of the Schoolhouse and added the now "vintage" fifties "modern" large hall etc to house the activities (musical etc) of the post-war immigrant wave. As you say these need work to function and show well.


Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: looking ahead with imagination (14:23)
to imagination17 Mar 2017 11:24
I like the new and the old design you posted of a school facade fronting a swank building behind:


What do others think?
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: to imagination (08:30)
R.O.I.18 Mar 2017 13:02
At every Town Hall and AGM meetings over the past 10 years, Architect Guido Laikve's, strong opinions were voiced to the EM board and shareholders regarding each of the proposed development “opportunities”.
Guido is a well respected retired architect in design, development and construction of many community facilities and condominiums in Canada.
He made it clear, the collaborative developer/EM Board proposals would never happen and to-date all of the proposals have not come to realization.
He has always been steadfastly of the opinion that keeping the existing house is a viable option and as such, some years ago gave the Board a proposal and direction of how the revitalization of the Estonian House could be achieved.
The EM Board is going to make another proposal to the Estonian community on March 29th. Lets revisit alternative plans, such as, renovating and revitalizing the existing Estonian House. Lets look at the pros and cons of each proposal, lets ask for all proforma cost projections and financial statements; the proposed return on the investment; the 5 year projections. Lets demand an opportunity to make a truly informed decision about the future of the Estonian House and potentially the future of the Estonian Community.
to ROI19 Mar 2017 07:50
So where are Guido's proposed plans? Did he have something concrete on paper? A design to share? Can you share a link? I am not looking for generalizations or verbal descriptions. Please present concrete plans and any images he may have created.

Also, is he in touch with modern design and the needs of younger generations? Or is he stuck in a past vision?
tiina19 Mar 2017 09:33
further to question about Guido's plans, he needs to also present a budget and clarify how he believes financing could be arranged.
An Observer19 Mar 2017 10:10
I await the meeting on March 29th, as should all interested parties in the community. I sincerely hope that the whole community stands behind any motion that gathers the support of the majority of the community. There will never be 100% agreement. However, the dissenters should expend the same energy supporting any such initiative once the majority have decided what to support. Our community is small.
to Observer19 Mar 2017 11:02
Please define majority. Are the deciders still the archaic closed group of shareholders of the present Estonian House which does not represent the whole community at large? Or the ETCU bank who has the majority of shares? Or all members of the Estonian community, whether they have a share of the present Estonian House or not?
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: to ROI (07:50)
to Observer19 Mar 2017 18:25
It's not "suspicion", but rather a power struggle as to which vision of the community is put in place.
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: to ROI (07:50), to Observer (11:02), to ROI (Mar 19) responder (11:10), 2011 Laikve article &EM report (14:15)
To ROI (Mar. 19)19 Mar 2017 10:41
Thank you! Your questions are excellent. The Board will have your answers. Based on good governance practices of a Corporation they will have the Minutes from the presentation; what was presented, who was present, discussion points, summaries of discussion and resolution.
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: R.O.I. (13:02)
to ROI (Mar 19) responder19 Mar 2017 11:10
So I will see a rendering of a plan proposed by Guido Laikve at the meeting? That is what I would like to see.
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: to ROI (07:50), to Observer (11:02)
2011 Laikve article &EM report19 Mar 2017 14:15
Good article written in 2011 by Guido Laikve regarding how to tackle a renovated and expanded EH at present location, written in Estonian. See http://www.eesti.ca/index.php?...

Note community needs listed on pg 7 in EM 2011 report (link below). Page 21 gives overview of why TC option rejected back then.
See: http://www.eesti.ca/pics/2011/...
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: to ROI (07:50), to Observer (11:02), to ROI (Mar 19) responder (11:10)
Observer19 Mar 2017 17:32
By majority support, I mean broad based support of the community. With respect to blocks of shares held by any institution or organization, they are representing that organization's members, so however they vote them is still legitimate. I don't understand why there has to be this under current of suspicion.
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: Looking forward to a new home (20:32)
Observer19 Mar 2017 17:32
By majority support, I mean broad based support of the community. With respect to blocks of shares held by any institution or organization, they are representing that organization's members, so however they vote them is still legitimate. I don't understand why there has to be this undercurrent of suspicion.
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: Looking forward to a new home (20:32), Observer (17:32)
to Tiina19 Mar 2017 11:28
If that was an viable alternative, why was it not presented by the EM Board. Let the shareholders decide if it is something to be considered. I am not alone in this, others have asked this question. Doesn't everyone have the right to be heard?
ROI19 Mar 2017 22:26
Eesti Maja's 31,000 sq. ft. rental capacity isn't anywhere near its potential utilization, at best it is renting at 25% of its capacity. The total revenue from rental & leasing in 2015 was $345,000.00, and incredibly the amount of advertising and promotion dollars allocated was a mire $1,800.00 (.5 of 1% of expenses). (citing 2015 Juhatuse Ulevaade). With virtually zero dollars for promoting Eesti Maja, surprisingly, it was the “non-Estonians” that brought in 30% more rental revenues than the Estonians and in 2014 it was even higher. Eesti Maja is attracting “non-Estonian” business despite any meaningful, marketing budget. This says alot about the iconic reputation of Eesti Maja in Toronto, its ability to attract business and a strong indicator of potential revenue growth for Eesti Maja.
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: R.O.I. (13:02), To ROI (Mar. 19) (10:41)
to observer - shareholder20 Mar 2017 07:59
No one brought up the idea of suspicion except you. Here is the issue:
If you read the EM 2011 report - page 21, it clearly states that "TC and EM governance structure are significantly different". In other words they are not on the same page in terms of direction for its shareholders.
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: lauluvend (08:12)
The observer again ...04 Apr 2017 19:32
Governance structure refers in part to how an organization is set up. TC is a not for profit, Sihtkapital a charity, EH a not for profit, EM a not for profit. Each has to abide by legislative constraints imposed on them. Hence, different governance structures.
Ingrid20 Mar 2017 14:05
It is my understanding all of us who believe the Estonian House is still our best option to service our community are really out numbered in terms of who has all the votes... and if the Esto Bank has controlling shares... they control if we restore/renovate the Estonian House or not... they did purchase a building beside Tartu Collage way back when we had the tridel deal being envisioned... I have heard some hearsay that this was not such a great purchase decision since the bank cannot rent it out nor can it use the space as a bank... only allowed uses are for community space by the the current zoning... so... will the bank try and protect a possible mis-guided building purchase by voting Tartu College location where the building can then be used by the Estonian groups... but no matter how you look at it the PARKING is a HUGE issue....And less functional space... and LESS space for sure...

again... this was hearsay... if anyone can share the reality.. that would be nice to know... because then the majority voter has extra reasons to promote Tartu College option.
Myth Buster20 Mar 2017 16:07
People who make statements like “lack of parking at Madison” should stop spreading myths! Four parking lots are within one block of Tartu College. One of these lots is for sale by the city but the other three still offer twice as much parking as the current Esto House lot. See for yourself.
Include nearby street parking and things are even better. Oh which myth shall I bust next?
To to imagination20 Mar 2017 16:13
The Alterra 7-storey condo project on Hazelton Ave (Aug 2013) is not the old and new I had in mind but it does raise an interesting question about the EM-EH announcement Oct. 2016 regarding the end of its partnership with Alterra, with reference to an unspecified "impasse". A proposal to rezone Broadview Avenue was initiated in Nov. 2013, to allow only low and mid-rise building, and this came into effect in June 2016. EM reports "intense negotiations" over the following summer with Alterra. In October 2016 the EM was officially designated a Heritage property. Was Alterra interested in the Heritage EM property (facade?) and a new building within the allowable 5-11 (?) storeys? What was EM "negotiating" during the summer with Alterra (what ended Tridel? Tribute?) or were they waiting for the decision on the heritage designation and its restrictions? The language of the announcement is obfuscating.

Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: looking ahead with imagination (14:23), imagination (11:02)
Reconsidering the future of EM20 Mar 2017 21:24
The proper evaluation of Laikve’s proposal, and the significance and value of the existing EM architecture and property are among the outstanding issues and questions. The EM Report of 2011 reinforced an attitude of dismissal towards an “old” building. EM in fact comprises two recognized architectural styles with enduring appeal, and that appeal has only intensified. In the meantime the scheme of selling the land to a developer as a way of obtaining the money for a new facility has failed. After the official designation of EM as a Heritage property in October 2016, EM ended its partnership with Alterra, the third developer with whom it has done business, over an unspecified “impasse”. Many want to see cause for optimism in the agreement of the Boards of four community organizations to facilitate a merger of EM and TC, on the site of TC. Others are sceptical, bitter over expenditures made and not made, and wary of proceeding without a clarification of what has happened.
We may have ceased to appreciate what surrounds us at the EM, since for years the EM Board has not been investing in upkeep or property management. The Modernist architect of the EM large hall, an Estonian, Michael (Mihkel) Bach, helped bring Modernism, and other Estonian architects, to the U of T Faculty of Architecture in the fifties and sixties. He was part of the five-member team hired to design the neighbourhood of Don Mills, where many Estonians have lived and where the Japanese Canadian Cultural, Noor Cultural, Aga Khan and Ismaeli Centres exist today with a mix of traditional and modernist aesthetics and in valued proximity to Toronto’s ravines. Evident in prominent architectural publications and the national news media, there has been an intense revival of interest in fifties-sixties design: architecture and interiors that emphasize ample windows, bringing the outdoors in to promote health and vitality, visual lightness, and functional simplicity. These qualities of freshness should be enhanced at the EM. At the same time, the EM maintains intact Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne features of the original East York Chester Schoolhouse. The third part of the EM building, the newer addition by Guido Laikve, did not destroy the vintage turn-of-the-century or modernist architectural features, and his proposal foresaw the revitalization and integration of the three parts of the building.
I am awed by Laikve’s partnership with Aslam Choudhary and his understanding of the future of the Toronto Eesti Maja as a concern for Estonians. His arguments as well as his proposal may not have not received the attention due to someone of his background, knowledge, and experience as the architect and overseer of the building of small and large community centres.

https://www.pressreader.com/ca... *

http://www.eesti.ca/kohtumine-... **
Samalt IP numbrilt on siin varem kommenteerinud: looking ahead with imagination (14:23), imagination (11:02), To to imagination (16:13)
to reconsidering20 Mar 2017 22:16
Thanks for the (second) Laikve interview. The gist of it starts at 7 min into the tape. In the interview Laikve believes that a renewed EH could last another 50 years.

This interview was done before the EH was designated as a heritage building. Does this designation change any of his past views on redesigning the old EH building? What does he think now?

I am confused by the heritage designation. Does it mean that we have to keep the "facade" (what's still visible), but that we can "gut" the building to create a modern design within?

If not, what do we have to keep?
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