The Greek community in Toronto is in a bit of hot water because of some massive debt numbers coming their way.
They have a debt of $4.5 million. The COVID-19 restrictions due to the pandemic and public health concerns have prevented raising funds. For example, one charitable organization promoting Greek culture in the Greater Toronto Ara wants to sell a property due to financial strains.
The Greek Community of Toronto represents more than 150,000 Canadians of Hellenic descent. Its revenue has dropped by 90%+ with a debt sitting at $4.5 million. Now, by the end of 2021, it will lose earnings of $2 million.
The firs vice president and treasurer of the organization, Nikona Georgakopoulos, stated, “We’re facing reality… These are extremely tough decisions. Nobody on the board wanted to make these decisions, but unfortunately, it’s better we make them now than somebody else making for you… “All of the fundraising events we were able to have in the past we can’t do anymore. Ninety per cent of our revenue is gone right off the bat.”
The organization’s properties include churches and about 40% of its income, while the other approximately 60% of its revenue comes from cultural event, festivals, and Greek schools. With a disappearance of the revenue, and the increasing debt, the Greek community organizations are having to make some of the tough decisions.
With a limit of religious services to 10 people due to the lockdown, it sets a boundary of possibilities for fundraising of some of the religious organizations. Georgakopoulos noted whole buildings are empty, need to be maintained, and cannot be used. It sets limits on the functionality of the public spaces for them.
Georgakopoulos said, “I know the rules are there to protect people from the disease, but unfortunately, from a business perspective, you just can’t make a go of it.”
Typically, the charity can run between 20and 30 fundraising events per annum with A Taste of Danforth as the most prominent. They take advantage of the provincial and federal level grans available to them. However, these do not cover the total expenses of the project.
They may be unlikely to cover more of the expenses with the grants because they’re simply too great. Even the schools, they had about 1,000 students. Now, they have about 100. It becomes another financial shortfall.
An independent advisory committee has formed based on the deliberations of the board of directors to explore solving the financial problems. They proposed selling one of its organization’s properties:
St. John’s & Alexander the Great Cultural Centre (1385 Warden Ave.).
St. Demetrios & Polymenakion Cultural Centre (30 Thorncliffe Park Dr.).
St. Irene’s Church (66 Gough Ave (795 Carlaw Ave.).
Virgin Mary’s Cathedral (136 Sorauren Ave.).
They put out a press release, which stated:
According to our constitution, as board of directors, we have a moral and legal obligation to preserve and promote the Greek Community of Toronto. We have weathered many storms in the past and thrived despite them.
This current situation is unlike anything we have experienced in the past. Eventually, all final decisions will be approved by you.
It is troubling and very saddening to be in a position that forces us to contemplate selling one of our most treasured assets, but the alternative is considerably worse. We hope you agree and are willing to see this through with us. The very survival of the Greek Community of Toronto hangs in the balance.
With files from Farrah Merali.