The Downtown East Area is bounded by Bloor Street on the north, Front Street on the south, Bay Street on the west, and the Don Valley Parkway on the east. The area will also include the immediate vicinity of the Respite Centre at 21 Park Rd. while it is operational. Downtown East is home to approximately 115,255 Toronto residents, about 4.2 per cent of the city’s population and the area covers about seven square kilometres, less than one per cent of the city’s land area.

The area is facing a number of issues and challenges that require an immediate and long-term response. Key issues include substance use and high rates of overdose, mental health concerns, the prevalence of poverty, and a lack of affordable housing options. Concern have also been raised about safety. The Downtown East area is also experiencing significant change as a result of new development.

City Initiatives in the Area

A number of City initiatives have been undertaken in the area, including:

  • George Street Revitalization – a shared service facility resulting from the redevelopment of Seaton House that will combine shelter services, long-term care, affordable housing and a community hub;
  • Tenants First Project and Home for Good Program – a proposal was developed for additional supportive housing units in the area;
  • Toronto Public Health Supervised Consumption Services at 277 Victoria Street – this service opened in August 2017;
  • Furthering Our Community by Uniting Services (FOCUS) – the FOCUS table is facilitated by the Toronto Police Services, SDFA, and the United Way convening approximately 40 community and public organizations, weekly, to identify and address situations of high risk of anti-social or criminal behaviour;
  • The Community Crisis Response Program (CCRP) works across the City of Toronto in partnership with community members, agencies, and internal City divisions to enhance community safety. The CCRP team supports communities with the development of safety networks that create neighbourhood strategies for Crisis Intervention, Crisis Prevention, and Crisis Preparation. When communities have been impacted by violent and traumatic incidents, CCRP further supports the recovery and healing process..

Council Directive

At its meeting on December 5, 2017, City Council adopted a motion (MM35.17) requesting the Medical Officer of Health, the Deputy City Manager, Cluster A, the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA), the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation (PFR), and the Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration (SDFA) to establish an expert staff team to:

  • Respond to the immediate crisis faced in Downtown East over a 12-month period in consultation with stakeholders and Ward Councillors; and,
  • Establish a five-year comprehensive plan to coordinate City services and programs to holistically address long-term community needs.

The first phase of this response is the Enhanced 12-month Action Plan. Staff will be reporting back to City Council with a five-year plan in 2019.