A Statement From AGBU Regarding Its Toronto Facility

As AGBU considers its options for relocation over the next few years, we focus on our commitment to continue growing our Toronto activities. We do this while respecting AGBU’s century-old close relationship with the Armenian Church, and our working in partnership with Holy Trinity Armenian Church for the good of the greater Toronto Armenian community.

While disappointed that a few have chosen to mischaracterize the recent announcement regarding the possible sale of the Armen-Ontario AGBU Center to neighboring Centennial College, AGBU chooses to focus on the positive facts surrounding this possible transaction. In fact, Centennial College, itself, has reached out to the church to ensure a continued positive relationship, which we would encourage the church leadership to take in the spirit it was offered and make this a positive move forward.

The background is simple: AGBU Center in Toronto, built in 1981, has accommodated the needs of the AGBU Armen-Ontario Chapter for more than three decades.  Even as the Chapter continues to advance with cultural, athletic and charitable activities, the cost of operating the Center has become staggering, requiring AGBU to rent the facilities most of the time. Church leadership has been well aware of these facts, as discussions regarding some of these challenges, as well as the possible sale of the property, have been discussed for years. Similarly, while early on the thought had been to have AGBU and the church near each other for practical purposes, it would be disingenuous to characterize how the community has evolved over the years as anything but the natural course of events.

AGBU Toronto, together with the Central Board, has been considering options to address the extraordinary financial burden of operating the Center, as well as the changing dynamics of the Toronto community, for some time, including moving Chapter operations to a more centralized location that will make it even more convenient to meet the needs and interests of the Toronto community.

AGBU recently entered an agreement with Centennial College, an adjoining non-profit organization, with the right of continuing to use the premises as before to at least January 2020 and likely longer. This will give AGBU time to decide next steps and continue uninterrupted its various activities, and also consider opportunities to expand community participation and support. This decision was endorsed by the Central Board.

With discussions ongoing, details of the Centennial College proposal were shared with the leadership of Holy Trinity Armenian Church and the Diocese, who were informed that they could acquire the AGBU facilities under the same terms.

While we understand that some did not like this decision, it is neither fair nor constructive to react with information intended to mislead the greater Toronto community, particularly those involved with the church. We remain optimistic that the church leadership, rather than characterizing this as “detrimental” to the community will focus on the reality that this is, in fact, beneficial to the greater community because it is a decision focused on meeting the current and future needs of Armenians in Toronto.

Since its founding more than a century ago, AGBU has worked closely with our Church globally and cooperates closely with churches in communities across the globe; Toronto is no different. We remain committed to working to minimize the impact of this eventual move on the operations of Holy Trinity and look forward to continuing to support each other’s important work.

We will continue our work to meet AGBU’s mission of preserving our heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, and creating a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians. AGBU Toronto appreciates the strong support it has received from the AGBU membership and many in the community.