The redevelopment of George Street and the replacement of Seaton House with a new long-term care facility for vulnerable elderly people will not leave homeless Torontonians out in the cold, Mayor John Tory contends.
A number of advocates for the homeless have suggested that the planned closure of Seaton House in 2017 will leave many of the people who occupy the 543-bed shelter without a place to go but Tory told CP24 that he is certain that the necessary work is being done to provide shelter space for displaced Seaton House residents during and after the construction of the new facility.
“I think you can be safe in the assumption that we are not going to tear down a shelter that badly needs to be replaced,” he said. “There is a transition plan and the elements of it are set out so we don’t have people left with nowhere to go.”
A staff report that was approved by city council in November calls for the acquisition of six new shelter spaces, two of which would be temporary, to house Seaton House residents.
“It is extremely unlikely that they are going to succeed in finding these places and it is even more unlikely that they are going to find viable, sustainable places located in realistic and survivable areas of the city,” Ontario Coalition Against Poverty organizer John Clarke told CP24.com on January 12, 2016. “Seaton House is a terrible institution in many ways and if we really had accessible and reasonable alternatives we would put the lock on the door ourselves with pleasure but until that happens and until there are proper alternatives the demand has to be don’t close it down.”
Seaton House first opened in 1931 and has been located at its current home on George Street since 1959.
Speaking with CP24 on January 11, 2016, Tory said the condition of the shelter has deteriorated under years of neglect to the point that it is “embarrassing” and not up to the standard any member of the public would accept.