Sun Youth could soon be looking for a new home

Sun Youth, the community service agency which has had a home in the old Baron Byng High School building since the school closed nearly 40 years ago, may need to move to make way for students once again.

Commission scolaire de Montréal may need to reclaim St-Urbain St. building to accommodate influx of students

The Sun Youth building is owned by the Commission scolaire de Montréal, the city's largest school board. (Sun Youth)

Sun Youth, the community service agency which has had a home in the old Baron Byng High School building since the school closed nearly 40 years ago, may need to move to make way for students once again.

The large brick building on St-Urbain Street in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood is now owned by the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), the city's largest school board.

The CSDM may need to reclaim the building and several other former schools around the city to accommodate an influx of students, said Ernest Rosa, the director of property management at Sun Youth.

"Unfortunately, it means that a lot of smaller and bigger organizations are going to have to find new homes," Rosa told CBC's Daybreak.

Alain Perron, a spokesperson for the CSDM, said the school board has seen a jump in enrolment recently. The school board received a record 1,800 new students this year.

Sun Youth has had a home in the old Baron Byng High School building since the school closed nearly 40 years ago. (CBC)

Several existing schools also need to be repaired, so the board needs to move students into other buildings, he said.

The CSDM's council of commissioners will make a final decision at a meeting on Dec. 20.

Rosa said Sun Youth may propose sharing the building with the CSDM. 

"We're hoping that maybe with our strategy we can partner up and move forward together," he said.

He said Sun Youth uses about 9,300 square metres — the equivalent of six hockey rinks — a vast space that would be difficult to find in the neighbourhood. 
Ernest Rosa is the director of property management at Sun Youth. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

The current location is ideal for their clientele, he added.

"We're in the middle of the city, so for our customers, from the east end or the west end or the north, it's super easy to get to — there's easy access to the metro and to the bus system," Rosa said.

However, he added, the organization would benefit from a larger gym open to community groups. An alternative space may open up new possibilities, he said.

Ideally, they would also like a greenhouse on the roof.

Rosannie Filato, the city executive committee member responsible for social development and community outreach, said the city administration will help Sun Youth find a new location that's big enough and responds to its needs.

"We will accompany them every step of the way," said Filato.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak