TC Board Members at Tartu College. Photo by Vincent Teetsov (2022)
Thursday, 30 June 2022 19:00
Estonian Life No. 26 2022 - Vincent Teetsov
On June 22nd, 2022, 14 Tartu College (TC) Board Members, in addition to six Members represented by proxy, convened on-site for their Annual Meeting of the Members (AMM). While the past two years have been inordinately difficult for the Not-For-Profit corporation, the evening provided an optimistic outlook with regard to earnings, spending, investments, property development, and internal operations.
Overseeing the meeting was Jaan Meri, Chair of the Board of Directors and one of two representative Members for Korporatsioon Vironia. Only the 16 korporatsioonid
(fraternities and sororities), and seltsid
(societies) are allowed to elect Members to the AMM and all Board Directors must be Members. The sole exception is the Estonian Museum Canada which appoints 2 Directors to the TC Board bringing the total number of TC Members to 28.
Of this group, three existing Directors—Reet Oolup, Allan Meret, and Andres Meri—were proposed and unanimously elected to continue in their positions. Terms are soon coming to an end for Peeter Einola, Jaan Meri, and Anne Õsso. Recognizing the need for involvement from new leaders, Tartu College will be encouraging academic organizations to volunteer for the board this fall. All members of fraternities, sororities, and societies are eligible to officially represent their organizations as Members.
Among the first news circulated to the Board during the meeting was regarding the Ontario Not for Profit Corporation Act, legislated in the autumn of 2021. The law outlines rules regarding “keeping records, having annual meetings and filing annual returns” and more in the not-for-profit sector, as explained by the Province of Ontario. TC’s By-laws will need to be updated to ensure their compliance to the new legislation within the next two years.
From a financial angle, Peeter Einola gave a thorough overview of TC's financial statements and audit as conducted by MNP LTD. Speaking broadly, TC's available cash at the end of 2021 had decreased to 334 thousand Canadian dollars from 349 thousand in 2020. Total debt has decreased steadily over the last three years: at the end of 2019, TC's total debt amounted to 9,245 dollars, and at the end of 2022 it will be at 7,350 dollars. The income statement shows that revenues continued to be constrained, at 4.1 million dollars in 2020, and then 4.2 million dollars in 2021. Substantial Canadian government support was given: 636 thousand dollars in 2020 and 808 thousand dollars in 2021.
Overall, the balance sheet indicates that “during the pandemic era, the total assets were essentially unchanged.” In addition, it was reported that TC will have their day in court on December 15th, to decide whether their property taxes should be taxed at the Residential Rate or Multi-Residential Rate.
At the prompt of Tõnu Tõsine, MNP LTD was unanimously voted to be TC's external auditor for another year.
One of Tartu College's necessary investments, adding to its 40 million dollar real estate value, are several capital projects and developments to the amenities of Tartu College. On the exterior, Tartu College is moving its garbage lift and expanding its garbage containment area to allow access to the back parking lot, at a cost of 135 thousand dollars. A dumpster moving machine has also been acquired.
On the G floor, both the fraternity and sorority rooms have been renovated, with a new flooring, sliding <I>vapp<I> (coat of arms) panels, cupboards, a multimedia TV screen, tables, and chairs for the fraternity room and a new kitchen, tables, chairs, and recovered couches on the way for the sorority room. Tartu College's G floor also has long-standing agreements with non-Estonian organizations such as the Academy for Lifelong Learning, for which revenue is generated through the rental of rooms during the week.
Between the south facing student entrance and Master's Buffeteria entrance, Northern Birch Credit Union will be setting up a pop-up banking location, with office space, meeting rooms, and ATM machine. Moreover, a 10 suite renovation for 2023 and mortgage renewal in July 2022 have both been proposed.
This is all taking place at the same time as many other developments in the neighbourhood surrounding Tartu College. Just next door at 300 Bloor Street West, Bloor Street United Church is in the process of constructing a condominium tower that will be twice the height of Tartu College upon completion and feature a planned automated parking garage. To the west, at 320 Bloor Street West, another development is planned, for which ScotiaBank, Pizza Pizza, and several other businesses will be replaced by a 37 storey high rise building. A new student residence is planned further south on the corner of Spadina Avenue and Sussex Avenue.
And of course, next door to the north will be KESKUS and the new planned home of Estonian Museum Canada (VEMU), both designed by Kongats Architects.
With this in mind Tartu College's General Manager, Linda Karuks, expressed her gratitude for the gradual return to normality at this time. TC is fully occupied for the school year, and now that summer language schools are operating again, summer revenue will be very high as well. Over 200 people are on the waiting list for occupancy in September, attracted by the quality and good value of the student residence.
There were many organizational achievements to celebrate. Estonian Museum Canada has made its new legal name official and has completed a rigorous branding exercise. Estonian Museum Canada's Chief Archivist, Piret Noorhani, was given the Valgetähe teenetemärk (Order of the White Star award) by the President of Estonia, Alar Karis, this past week.
Moreover, Eesti Elu
's website is undergoing redevelopment and re-design, led by Project Manager Elis Jaansoo and the Estonian design agency called Velvet, to boost its user-friendly properties. All of these residents and organizations make for a thriving Tartu College community.
Anne Agur, along with the whole board, congratulated General Manager Linda Karuks for boldly leading Tartu College through the challenges of the last two years, to come out on top.
Just as the Estonian community's physical presence in downtown Toronto is expanding, one can look inside Tartu College and see a building that is bustling with positive developments, thanks to its leadership.
Written by Vincent Teetsov