Toronto mayor reveals next steps for George Street makeover plan

The City of Toronto announced the latest steps Thursday of the George Street Revitalization Project, which is expected to provide a facelift to the northernmost block of George Street, including the Seaton House men's shelter.

George Street Revitalization Project will transform Seaton House men’s shelter

An artist's rendering of a new facility that will provide support and care to Toronto's vulnerable populations as part of the George Street Revitalization Project. This rendering was created in 2015 and is therefore subject to change. (City of Toronto )

Mayor John Tory has announced the latest steps in a major project that will give a facelift to a downtown street that is home to one of Toronto's largest men's shelters. 

The city says the George Street Revitalization Project will "reinvent" the northernmost block of George Street, between Dundas and Gerrard streets, which currently includes the Seaton House men's shelter. 

The new project would transform that shelter space — and the properties adjacent to it — into a new 600,000-square-foot shared facility that would provide specialized care for the city's most vulnerable populations. 

"We are taking areas that are in high need of revitalization and we are re-imagining how we support these residents," Tory told reporters Thursday. 

He also announced the city's latest step, a Request for Qualification (RFQ), which will help put a price on the George Street plan.

Plan approved in 2013, expected to be ready in 2026 

The project has been in the works since the proposal was approved by city council in 2013.

To date, the plan for the space includes: 

  • A long-term care home with 378 beds. 
  • A 100-bed emergency shelter for men. 
  • A 130-bed all-gender "transitional living" service for people experiencing homelessness who require more intensive health care and substance abuse support. 
  • 21 units of affordable housing with supports. 
  • A community service hub for program clients and community members. 
Toronto Mayor John Tory says when complete, George Street's new facility will be 'a very big and very significant project.' (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

Tory says the transformation will help to create a "real community" in the area.

"Whether you're a client in need of an emergency shelter, which will be there, a senior looking for long term care, which will be there, or someone in need of an affordable home, which will be there ... this revitalization project in the heart of downtown east will have all of those elements," he said. 

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, agrees. 

"I am thrilled that the next phase of the George Street Revitalization project is launching," she said in a statement Thursday. 

"This project will be the catalyst for a more safe and vibrant community for all in the heart of the historic Garden District."

Seaton House is expected to be demolished by 2022 to make room for the new facility. (City of Toronto)

The city says the project will also include sidewalk and "streetscape improvements," as part of a broader public realm plan for George Street, which will include linking Moss Park to Allan Gardens.

The project, which is part of the city's Downtown East Action Plan, is expected to to be completed by 2026.

Seaton House services to be relocated 

Meanwhile, the city has developed a Seaton House Transition Plan to coordinate the relocation of programs and services from 339 George St. to alternate locations while the revitalization project takes place. 

That transition plan also includes relocating the 200 clients currently living in the shelter. 

"We've made a commitment to identify at least 200 permanent housing opportunities for people that are staying there, as well as 400 replacement shelter beds," said Mary-Anne Bedard, general manager of the city's shelter, support and housing administration.

The following five new program spaces have been secured to help with the transition: 

  • Scarborough Village Residence.
  • 731 Runnymede Rd.
  • 2299 Dundas St. W.
  • 705 Progress Ave.
  • 354 George St.

Seaton House is expected to be fully decommissioned by July 2022.

With files from Nicole Martin and Julia Knope