It’s a bittersweet departure.
After four decades on Bloor West, the Toronto branch of Plast Ukrainian Scouting will soon be moving out of the area and relocating to a new building near the airport.
“There’s emotional connections,” says Andrey Genyk-Berezowsky, a former scout and counsellor who just ended his term as president of the organization. “It’s like going to high school and then graduating and leaving.”
That said, the new facility is giving the group some much-needed space to stretch its legs. Although the old location – the top two floors of a three-storey building at Bloor and Kennedy Avenue – is near much of Toronto’s established Ukrainian community, it has no lawn or indoor space for scouts to run around. By contrast the new facility has both lawn space and a gym.
“We’ve always thought it would be nice to have a place with a gym,” Genyk-Berezowsky says. “We’re hoping to supplement weekly scout meetings with a couple of evenings of open sports. The opportunity for the kids is phenomenal. We’ve got opportunities to play basketball, volleyball, hockey in this gym, and on top of that there’s a fair bit of grass space.”
He adds parking at the new building is also a relief from a safety perspective.
“Particularly of concern would be the young kids who would get dropped off,” he says. “(Some parents) would just turn down Kennedy and drop them off and watch them walk in. It’s a busy intersection. There’s always traffic around there.”
For the time being both locations are still being used, but that will probably change sometime in the new year.
“I don’t think we can afford to keep both locations occupied by us,” Genyk-Berezowsky says.
That means the old building will either be sold off to create an endowment to keep up the new building, or it will be kept and rented out. The decision will likely be made at the organization’s annual general meeting at the end of February.
The move comes after a surprise announcement this past summer by Ukrainian philanthropist, Erast Huculak who said he had bought St. Luke’s Church at the Kingsway and Kipling Ave. and was donating it to the organization.
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