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Top 5 takeaways from KESKUS community engagement session

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Update #168

The 18th Community Engagement Session for KESKUS International Estonian Centre took place on February 1, 2023 in hybrid form, both in-person at Tartu College in Toronto, and via Zoom. Over 80 community members attended to hear KESKUS updates and pose questions. All were invited to send questions in advance, and thanks go to those who did!

Read up on the top five takeaways:

1. Transition of community activities to KESKUS

Pia Poolsaar, director of Estonian House in Toronto Ltd., and Tiina Paluoja, both active Toronto Estonian community members, have committed to coordinate transition of community activities to KESKUS.

Some 26 community groups used Toronto Estonian House and each has unique needs for KESKUS activity space and storage. Pia and Tiina will continue to work with the designated group representatives as the move-in date draws near. Pia and Tiina use the uuskodu [at] email address for these communications.

2. KESKUS floor plans

KESKUS architect Alar Kongats walked through the updated floor plans, giving a very real view into how the layout of the approx. 36,000 sq.ft. centre will support activities.

Each of the four levels of KESKUS continues to have visual and physical access to green space and Alar reviewed the flow through all aspects of the building including practical elements such as the catering kitchen, washrooms, elevator and lifts, and storage locations.

3. Construction update and schedule

Development manager David Kalm shared the critical path for construction with opening of KESKUS tracking to September 2024. With the deep foundation work now complete, excavation and foundation work will continue for the next several months.

As construction traditions dictate, coins were tossed into the first foundation pour. Heili Toome, IECI board chair tossed in a Canadian loonie and an Estonian 50 euro cent coin, and that first foundation pour took place just a few hours prior to the engagement session.

Stay tuned for hardhat tours once the weather improves!

4. Impact of market conditions

Katriina Niitsoo, IECI board member and tenured commercial real estate lender at RBC, shared her insights into commercial real estate development in Toronto. Though recent years have seen unprecedented pressures on the construction industry (supply chain shortages, geopolitical impacts, labour issues, inflation, approvals delays, etc.), stabilization of these conditions is becoming apparent. This means that re-tendering and awarding of contracts on an as-needed basis is the recommended process.

David reported that the team undertook a value engineering process from fall 2021 to spring 2022 to address the escalated construction budget arising from market conditions.

Project lead Ellen Valter noted that as the re-tendering, based on the value engineering process, comes in, the final budget will become firm. Katriina remarked that “David Kalm and the construction management team have done a wonderful job in managing the project through this unprecedented time.”

5. Next steps

As KESKUS progresses through construction, the fundraising will continue and volunteer opportunities will arise. It’s time to get involved! Please sign up for the KESKUS monthly newsletter (make sure it clears your spam filters) so that you can stay apprised of project progress.

A big thank you goes out to every donor, volunteer and supporter and to all who attended and submitted and post questions at the engagement session. Now that construction is underway, the project is quite literally starting to take shape!

Watch the video of the presentation here:


Get involved and help support our future

Deep foundation work on KESKUS is completed! Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors to help bring this extraordinary project to completion.

The KESKUS International Estonian Centre’s donor categories are Kalevipoja laud for gifts over $100,000 (including naming rights for specific areas), Koidula gild, which is from $50,000-99,999, Viru vanemad for gifts of $10,000-$49,999, and Kungla rahvas for gifts up to $10,000. KESKUS leadership donors are recognized here.

To make a donation, please call +1.647.250.7136 or email Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family. All donations are issued a tax receipt, in Canada via Estonian Arts Centre, US tax receipts via KBFUS and Estonian tax receipts via Eesti Rahvuskultuuri Fond.

Let’s keep in touch!

  • Visit the KESKUS website for all the latest news

  • Sign up for the KESKUS monthly email newsletter

  • Follow us on Facebook @EestiKeskus, Twitter @keskus, Instagram @keskus.iec


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