As a third generation member of the Toronto-Estonian community, I am writing this to articulate my reasons for supporting the proposal to start the due diligence process to move the Eesti Maja to Madison Ave.
While 958 Broadview holds many fond memories for me, I agree with the facts that the current Eesti Maja has reached the end of its lifespan. Even if the resources required to revive it were available, I believe it is time to move on to a space that is more suitable and sustainable for the long term. It is clear from the usage statistics, which show a steady decrease, that the Eesti Maja is not viewed as an attractive rental space to those both inside and outside of our community - people have already voted, with their feet! We need a facility to be able to sustain itself on its own merit, and not on subsidization. At Madison, it appears that we would be able to create an attractive, flexible space for our own purposes that can also provide desirable rental spaces for the busy surrounding neighbourhood when not in use by us. The location, in the middle of downtown Toronto and close to U of T, means that there will likely be strong demand from a wider variety of potential renters, and having a new and modern space will make us an attractive option.
While we do have a long history with 958 Broadview, and it is important to respect that, we need to take this window of opportunity to move forward. Keeping to traditions is part of Estonian culture, but so is pressing on into the future and innovating with what we have. That's how Eesti continues to progress technologically today, and that's the facet of our modern heritage that we should look to model our local future on. We can incorporate our cultural heritage into the most fundamental parts of the Madison design, such as the map cutout courtyard, instead of just though the paintings on its walls. It offers a great location, lots of flexible accessible space, and a closer connection to other facets of our community, such Tartu college, and the proposed VEMU. We could have a building that brings together all generations of our shrinking community and shows our strength and Eesti pride!