A fixture on Saint-Urbain St. for 36 years, Sun Youth may have to move.
The charity has been renting space from Montreal's largest school board, the Commission Scolaire de Montreal, for decades – but that may come to an end in the next 18 months.
The possibility comes as the school board is faced with a looming demand for space because of an anticipated influx of 1,000 pupils in the next five years, as well as the need to conduct repairs on the building used by FACE school.
Commissioners will vote at their next meeting, on Dec. 20, whether or not to cancel Sun Youth's lease of the former Baron Byng High School at Saint-Urbain and Rachel.
“We're hoping that in the vote they'll decide to cohabitate with us in the building,” said Ernest Rosa, the property manager for Sun Youth.
He has known about the possible move for several months.
“In early July we were called into a meeting with the CDSM and they had to explain to us that their needs were just too great,” he said.
He's been scouting other locations but hopes the CSDM will allow Sun Youth to remain in its current location, even if students move in.
"That would probably be our best-case scenario in terms security and staying in the area because that's one other thing our founders have told us, they want to stay in the area. So we really want to stay in the Plateau. Our three buildings that we've housed in over the years have all been in the Plateau area," said Rosa.
Sun Youth was established in 1954 and has been in its current locale since 1981.
The charity is currently in the process of preparing Christmas baskets with food and gifts for those in need, which is another reason it hopes to remain in place.
"It's very centralized so all our clients have easy access between metro and buses," said Rosa.
He added that the building itself is in poor shape, so if Sun Youth has to move, it would be an opportunity to find a structure in better condition.
One suggestion has been the nearby Hotel Dieu Hospital, but it won’t be ready in time, said Health Minister Gaetan Barrette.
“This is an idea that's been put on the table and again as I said we are at least four years away to make a decision,” he said.
Sun Youth requires a large space, including a gymnasium for its sports programs.
The CDSM said it wouldn't provide comments on camera until after the vote on Dec. 20. If the school board decides to end the lease, Sun Youth will have a year and a half or more to find a new home.