Modernizing George Street
The George Street Revitalization project (GSR) is a Council-approved initiative that will re-imagine the northernmost block of George Street. GSR is part of the City's Downtown East Revitalization plan and will be the catalyst for a more safe and vibrant community for all in the heart of the historic Garden District.
Seaton House men's shelter and adjacent properties will be transformed into a new shared facility, providing specialized care for vulnerable populations. In addition, City Council approved the Seniors Services and Long-Term Care (SSLTC) Capital Plan. The Capital Renewal Plan is an exciting opportunity to modernize and improve the design of long-term care homes, while advancing the vision to be leaders in excellence and groundbreaking services for healthy aging. Castleview Wychwood Towers (Ward 12) is one of five City long-term care homes being redeveloped as outlined in the SSLTC Capital Renewal Plan. Operations in the existing site will continue until the new long-term care home is built on George Street to serve the local community and provide capacity for relocating residents from Castleview Wychwood Towers. Residents will be given the option to move into the new home or transfer to another home through Home and Community Care relocation.
When complete, the new facility on George Street will include a 100 bed emergency men's shelter, a transitional living program with 130 beds, a 378 bed long-term care home, 21 units of affordable housing and a community hub serving residents of both the site and the local neighbourhood.
An Inclusive Community Hub
The City supports the development of a community hub that fulfills and responds to the needs of vulnerable residents and populations. This hub will be an accessible community meeting place for people to come together to build community, with shared resources and integrated services between multiple providers, and in partnership with the residents and the communities being served.
The GSR Footprint
The footprint of the new George Street community will be tremendous! It extends from the Schoolhouse shelter, currently operated by Dixon Hall located at 349 George St. to 295 George St., which was previously the home of the Fegan Boys and the British Home Children. They were destitute orphans who were brought to Canada, and stayed briefly at 295 George St. before being distributed across the country, often as farm labourers.
GSR Project Timelines
In February 2018, City Council approved funding for the project through the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) 10-Year Capital Budget and Plan. The project will be delivered in partnership with Infrastructure Ontario. Procurement for a construction partner is anticipated to begin in spring 2020 with an RFP release and based on current plans, the start of the redevelopment is estimated for fall 2021 with a targeted completion date of winter 2024. In consultation with the local community and stakeholders, the City will finalize the program and design elements for the new site prior to the RFP release.
Transition of Clients from Seaton House
Clients, programs and services currently at Seaton House (339 George St.) will be transitioned to alternative locations during the redevelopment of the George Street site. The plan involves the relocation of 400 shelter beds to five new program spaces, as well as housing current Seaton House clients with the assistance of Housing Allowances and Supportive Housing units with Habitat Services and other providers.
The five new program spaces secured are:
Scarborough Village Residence
731 Runnymede Rd.
2299 Dundas St. W.
705 Progress Ave.
354 George St.
In April of this year, Scarborough Village Residence (3306 Kingston Rd.) opened its doors and 40 clients from Seaton House transitioned to this site with more new locations supporting the Seaton House Transition expected to open over the next year.
The City of Toronto is working on finding permanent housing for some clients. Since January 2018, 96 clients from Seaton House have been housed across a combination of housing options including social housing, long-term care homes, and supportive housing units. Seaton House is expected to be fully decommissioned by spring 2021. Over the next 18 months, staff will continue working with clients to implement transition plans.
Revitalization of Public Realm
As part of the redevelopment, outdoor areas and spaces which are accessible to the public on George Street between Gerrard Street and Dundas Street will also be enhanced to celebrate and honour Indigenous culture. This streetscape plan was endorsed by City Council in June 2018. The City will begin working with Indigenous consultants to undertake respectful and meaningful engagement and consultation with the Indigenous community as well as the local community and other stakeholders in the planning and design of a streetscape that is culturally based and responsive to local needs, goals and objectives.
The George Street Revitalization has plans for a significant public art program. It will comprise of a number of major artworks that will be commissioned by Economic Development and Culture Division in cooperation with a professional public art consultant. The program will connect in harmonious and meaningful ways with the Indigenous place-making initiatives in the Public Realm that is planned for the area's streetscape, and continue the Indigenous theme through the engagement of leading contemporary Indigenous artists. Another important colonial heritage theme will be the commemoration of the Fegan Home Boys. While the artwork will reflect the past history of the site, an important aim of the public art program is to make visible the core values of the project going forward, advancing the most progressive philosophies of caregiving in the 21st century by combining community support, social, health, and different levels of housing services in one connected city block.
For examples of public art around the city, Toronto artist Dan Bergeron's "Faces of Regent Park" lines a prominent plaza in this revitalized community. It is one of more than 220 works in the City's public art and monuments collection.