Montreal Polish community petitions sale of consulate building

Officials say plans to downsize and move Montreal's Polish consulate will save millions of dollars, but community members say they should have been consulted first.

Polish Consul General says decision to move was 'painful' but necessary

Montreal's Polish community says consulate was a cultural hub. 2:08

Members of Montreal’s Polish community are petitioning a decision to sell the city’s Polish consulate building and move its offices.

The move, which the government says will save millions of dollars, comes in the wake of recent austerity measures to tackle the country's deficit.

It was quite a painful decision- Andrzej Szydło, Montreal Consul General for Poland

“I can’t deny that it’s for money reasons. We have to reduce our expenses,” said Montreal Consul General for Poland, Andrzej Szydło.

The consulate is currently located at 1500 Pine Ave. West and it’s set to move its operations to 3501 Ave. du Musée by the end of July.

Szydło says they will continue to offer consular services at the new, downsized location, but members of the Polish community say the building was more than just a place to get passports.

A 'slap in the face'

Therese Romer is one of the people behind a petition to stop the closure.

Romer said there are dozens of artistic and cultural groups in the community that rely on the facilities. He said they should have been consulted about the decision.

The Polish consulate, located at 1500 Pine Avenue West, is set to downsize and move to a new Montreal location by the end of July. (CBC)

"We'd like them to get together with interested people right here, not take decisions in Warsaw, where they don't really know what's going on."

Dobromir Jastrzebski, who organizes a youth conference that was held at the consulate, said the decision felt like a "slap in the face."

"Our opinion did not count. Our input did not count.”

Szydło said he’s not surprised that Montreal’s Polish community is upset.

“I have to say that it wasn’t an easy decision. It was quite a painful decision, actually.”

“We’ve been here in Montreal for 95 years so far. So you don’t decide to close a consulate with such a long history in one day … I’m really sorry that the consulate will be downsized … but it was necessary.”