The City of Toronto is revitalizing George Street to integrate services for vulnerable people and the broader community, in a new building, as part of the City’s vision for a new future of service integration:

  • replace the existing Seaton House men’s shelter with a smaller emergency shelter
  • add a state-of-the-art long-term care home
  • provide transitional living
  • offer programs and support for residents
  • a community hub.

From walk-in services to end-of-life care addressing individuals’ complex and overlapping needs, this state of the art facility will serve the entire community in times of crisis by integrating the latest in green technology and accessibility standards and what the City has learned from the most recent global emergencies.

Managed multi-divisionally, this integration of services reflects well-researched best practices that support the needs of populations with vulnerabilities across a continuum of care.

Preserving elements of our built heritage and supported by Toronto City Council, the City is reinventing the northernmost block of George Street. We are creating a world-class facility that provides the highest standard of health care for vulnerable people and the broader community, incorporating a rights-based approach to housing. This new home for people and services will be designed and guided by Infrastructure Ontario as part of a public-private partnerships (P3) process to redevelop the existing Seaton House facility.

The City of Toronto recognizes we must apply for a greater envelope to deliver on the principals of green infrastructure, supportive social services and accessibility for everyone in order to anticipate the evolving needs of the community.

By creating safe spaces for people to gather and receive services, George Street Revitalization (GSR) will be the catalyst for a more vibrant community for all in the heart of the historic Garden District.

The Long-Term Care Capital Renewal Plan (LTC) is an exciting opportunity to modernize and improve the design of long-term care homes while advancing the vision to be a centre of excellence in seniors’ services and long-term care. More than just beds; gardens, gathering and program spaces are included to provide safe and diverse quality of life.

The LTC home is state-of-the art in providing for enrichment spaces and programs, incorporating safety in design, intent and the latest in Infection Prevention and Control.

Recently, the City of Toronto has experienced an unprecedented increase in emergency shelter use and people experiencing housing loss. A continuum of transitional programs allow people to live in a safe and supportive environment with 24/7 staff and opportunities to build the skills required to access appropriate housing when it is available. With 130 residents, it is envisioned that this population will transition into housing that meets their needs through this residential program.

In addition, there will be 21 affordable homes with supports on-site for more independent residents managed by Shelter, Support & Housing Administration.

The original Seaton House was built as a large emergency shelter – one of the largest ever in North American history. While emergency shelter services are still required, they are needed throughout the city, and not only in one large, centralized location. For this reason the City has expanded its shelter network, opening new shelters across the city. To serve this community, this emergency shelter will provide 100 beds with better privacy, hygiene and personalized services available for people experiencing a housing emergency.

Many precariously housed populations live in the Downtown East and the Downtown East Action Plan directs the City to create safe and inclusive spaces for people who would otherwise be marginalized. With services like laundry and showers, places to have a cup of coffee and warm up, and managed by some of the City’s best service providers for mental health and social supports and programs, this area will build community resilience and safety with ongoing supports to the community.

Envisioned with innovative pivot spaces in mind, the Community Hub will be a facility designed to resist climate shock and will stay powered in order respond to changing needs in the event of a local catastrophe. In times of crisis, the Hub will be able to adapt programming to offer multiple services to respond appropriately and can act as a safe location of refuge, commercial food production and distribution as well as a power generator to anticipate the community needs without creating new infrastructure.

The City is being proactive in requesting an update to the Official Plan and Zoning by-law amendments recently approved after a comprehensive review in 2018. These changes will facilitate an innovative facility that is future-proof in serving this community with dignity and respect.

It is important to note the revised application submitted in 2022 does not increase client and resident beds nor is it an expansion of services. The application maintains the general intent and vision of the GSR and incorporates best practices and City of Toronto initiatives in design. With the revised application we have an opportunity to:

  • Address changing needs of aging and vulnerable populations with improved accessibility to program areas (that surpass TADG2021 standards), based on expert community well-being predictions.
  • Offer increased quantity of accessible rooms to accommodate all users, in particular people who face barriers due to mobility restrictions or needs, and those with less visible needs. These living spaces and services have long been in high demand and often result in lengthy waitlists for those who need it most.
  • Reconfigure spaces to better protect the health of communities who live in institutional residences by applying lessons learned from the Global Pandemic including engineering, safe air quality and infection prevention which require more physical space (and sinks).
  • Create dedicated programming and social enterprise opportunities that provide services to the community with dignity and respect
  • Better incorporate the façade and some interiors of the heritage designated dwellings and allow for more creativity with design for an innovative multi-use facility.
  • Incorporate the redesigned roads, sidewalks and gardens: an innovative redesign of the streetscape which will holistically link Allan Gardens and Moss Park by creating pedestrian friendly and art spaces for the community and become a safer and more beautiful thoroughfare in the city.
  • A Green Building: more than just the skin of the building, this new facility will be operable even in extreme heat and cold. It will incorporate the latest in net zero technology as well as not contributing greenhouse gas emissions. Even better, in the case of a crisis, this will be a center as a community resource.

The City of Toronto and Infrastructure Ontario (IO) have issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the George Street Revitalization project, which will reinvent the northernmost block of George Street (between Dundas Street East and Gerrard Street East).

Two teams (EllisDon Corporation and Bird Design Build Construction) were prequalified based on criteria identified in a request for qualifications process that began in November 2020. Selection criteria included design and construction capability, experience, qualified personnel and financial capacity to undertake a project of this size and scope. A successful bidder is expected to be announced in Summer 2023.

November 5, 2020 News Release