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Seaton House replacement key to George Street revitalization

Mayor John Tory’s executive committee is asking City Council to endorse a revitalization of George Street that would be based around a new, combined community services hub replacing Seaton House, Canada’s largest homeless shelter.

The project would demolish the existing Seaton House to build a 600,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility providing a 100-bed emergency shelter program, a 378-bed long-term care home program, a 130-bed transitional assisted living program, 21 units of supported affordable housing and a community service hub. The existing Seaton House, which has been at its current site since 1959, can accommodate as man as 900 men—more than the proposed facility, which would offer a variety of program streams for people with various levels of need.

“Seaton House, with its aging physical plant and an environment that does not meet the needs of vulnerable men experiencing homelessness, is in critical need of redevelopment,” states the Executive Committee item adopted on October 20. “The combination of abandoned buildings and illicit activities on George Street has resulted in an air of neglect and has raised concerns for community safety.”

The new facility would, it’s hoped, provide “a unique opportunity to transform George Street, while setting a precedent for revitalization in the Garden District that is focused on providing a quality public realm and superior building design,” states the project overview released this month. “The redevelopment of the site will create a safe, inviting and vibrant place that reinstates the scale and rhythm of the greater neighbourhood. This project considers the building, site and streetscape comprehensively. Multiple entrances, new pathways, strong indoor-outdoor connections, dedicated landscaped areas, usable and flexible outdoor spaces all work to de-institutionalize George Street, while the restoration of heritage-designated properties revive the vernacular that defines the community’s
rich urban history.”

If the project moves ahead, City Council is being authorized to spend about $100,000 to conduct an analysis of project procurement and delivery options.

Source: City of Toronto
Writer: Paul Gallant
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