Downtown East Revitalization Strategy and Seaton House  Last updated  November 2015.

The Garden District Heritage Conservation District is near completion and will likely be designated in the near future.  For the latest information on that study.  Please Click here.

 Here is an excellent update from our neighbouring Garden District Residents Association regarding the Seaton House/George Street piece of this puzzle.

George Street Revitalization
Community Open House
Tuesday June 16, 2015

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Dear GDRA members,

There is an important open house for the George St Revitalization Project scheduled for June 16 that I would like to strongly encourage you to attend.  The details are included in the announcement below, but I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on the process that led to this upcoming open house.


As you may know, the GDRA was given standing as a participant in the George Street Revitalization Stakeholder Working Group.  That fact in itself is somewhat extraordinary, and it is a testament to the work of the board and the membership of the GDRA in rebuilding and expanding the reputation of our association as a positive and collaborative partner in the community.  The “stakeholders” include various advocates/specialists for long term care and shelters, TCHC, Local 79, a ton of people from various city departments, and us.  As the current president of the association, I have been attending these meetings as our representative.


The group was spawned from the North George Working Group, where Glen Simourd still represents the GDRA.  I mention this because it was at a North George meeting that the terms of reference for the redevelopment of Seaton House were first introduced.   The two core terms of reference were that a) there will always be an emergency shelter at the Seaton House site and b) there will be the same overall number of beds even if the use of the beds changes.  Those terms suggested that the redevelopment process would be largely a question of architecture rather than addressing some of the root cause issues at Seaton House.

There is a great deal of information posted on the website about the George St. Revitalization process since these terms of reference were introduced, including minutes of all the sessions held so far.  There are a few key developments that I would like to highlight that will prepare you in advance for the presentations at the open house:


Most important:  the current Seaton House facility is to be demolished


The Numbers

  • There are currently 634 beds at Seaton House, divided into: 294 emergency shelter beds, 280 transitional shelter beds, 60 in a separate transition shelter facility
  • Of these 634, 364 are planned to be moved OFFSITE to other facilities PERMANENTLY
  • The remaining distribution will be: 100 emergency shelter beds, 90 assisted living, 80 long term care
  • The catalyst for the dramatic reduction in population density seems to be new guidelines for how shelter and long term care facilities must be designed:
  • No more warehouse dormitories - each room should have 1, 2, or 4 beds in it (shelter), or 1 or 2 beds (LTC) - and each room should have its own washroom
  • A much higher ratio of the overall square footage is to be dedicated to common areas, kitchens, counselling rooms, etc.
  • Natural light is given a high priority, pushing the rooms to the periphery of each floor
  • To replace the beds from Seaton House, the City is actively looking for 6 new sites across the city.  In total, they are looking to create 16 new facilities to increase overall capacity and address the need to vacate other existing properties which no longer meet guidelines.
  • Every current resident of Seaton House will undergo a detailed needs assessment to determine the best match for required services and opportunities to move out of the shelter system altogether.
  • Women will be moved into the LTC facility to create more gender balance.  As I understand it, the shelter will remain men-only
  • The target date for the full closure of the existing facility is Spring 2017.  Some beds will be transitioned out sooner as other facilities become available, avoiding a single mass move in 2017.
The Facility Design
  • The current footprint of the actual Seaton House building itself is to be used as a 7-8 storey long term care facility exclusively (ground floor will be a public “hub" space of some kind).
  • The new shelter will be built to the south of the existing building, weaving around and potentially incorporating the existing heritage properties.  As a result, the shelter footprint is much smaller.  It will only be 4 storeys high.
  • Both buildings are intended to have interior courtyards for natural light
  • The School House is being examined as the potential home of the Service Hub
  • There will be underground parking for staff and visitors
  • Unable to reach a deal, they are moving to expropriate the house immediately to the south of the existing facility 

Finally, I should emphasize that all development plans are subject to approval by City Council in September.  There remains the usual array of challenges, including the inevitable issue of cost, but there seems to be quite a bit of momentum carrying the proposed package to a September approval at Council.  I suspect the real stumbling block is going to be the construction of the replacement facilities.  The shelter services staff who have presented seemed at a loss for where they were going to find all these buildings at a price that the City could afford.  They’ve got a huge challenge ahead of them.


Nick Culverwell

GDRA Board of Directors | President

Garden District Residents Association


.In 2012, the city launched a revitalization initiative for the neighbourhood to the west of Cabbagetown South. This is primarily Allan Gardens to the north, south to Moss Park and Queen Street,  Jarvis on the west and Sherbourne Street to the east including the east side of the street.  The main focus of the revitalization will involve the demolition of  Seaton House and rebuilding a complex with more supportive housing units as well as a similar sized hostel.   Many area residents suggested that this would be an excellent opportunity to create a smaller hostel/supportive housing model and implementing such models throughout the GTA.  

In February 2014 Shelter Support Services moved forward with a George Street Advisory Group and invited interested neighbours to apply for a grueling 18 month series of meetings to finalize plans for the redevelopment of Seaton House and adjoining properties.  It was recently announced that the plan for Seaton House and Geroge Street is to move and divide the men's hostel to six new sites in various areas of the City to accommodate the Seaton House clients for the transition in preparation for the redevelopment.  Four of the six sites will be permanent, and two temporary, returning to George Street. 

There will be a Community Open House on June 16th, 2015 starting at 6:30 pm at the Harbour Light Center 160 Jarvis Street.  Drop by and learn more.  Here is a link to the city website.   

Hopefully this is an opportunity to create a model that would fairly distribute both Seaton House and eventually Max Meighan clients in a way that would have less strain on the host communities..

The properties adjacent to Seaton House include a former Detention Center facing George Street and the the Provincial Court Houses facing Jarvis Street.  The Detention Center pictured below left has been decommissioned while the Court House facing Jarvis remains in use.  A big problem with George Street along this stretch is the abandonded Detention Center and the province needs to come up with a solution for that property. Something that draws both street and pedestrian traffic and serves the greather community would be a help in normalizing the street. Anyone who has taken George Street will note the considerable number of people milling about, apparent drug transactions etc..  This ongoing problem needs to be addressed.  We recomend that area residents contact MPP Glen Murray and voice thier views about Geroge Street and how the abandoned property could be better utilized to improve the street. 


For the latest information please check out the George Street Redevelopment Study website.  Click Here .  

  George Street Detention Center                                                                        Jarvis St Provincial Court House

There was a public meeting regarding the strategy on October 17, 2013 for the general public.

This was their Meeting Objectives:

  • Introduce the DTE revitalization strategy to the community
  • Share our process and future opportunities to engage
  • Hear your feedback on the strategy

To see the latest Downtown East Revitalization Strategy, click here.


There is considerable pressure for redevelopment because of proximity to Yonge Street and the financial district.  Ryerson University is going to construct a high rise residence on Jarvis Street.  Seaton House is also reworking their operations on George Street. Likely the Salvation Army's Maxwell Meighan men's hostel on Sherbourne at Queen will develop future plans for their hostel as well.

This is a great opportunity to get involved with the east end strategy and voice your ideas, views and concerns.

As a residents' association, we feel there is an unhealthy concentration of hostel beds in the area and it is time that the city rethink the large hostels and develop a plan to better distribute small, well thought out and well managed hostels and supportive housing through out the city. Neighbourhoods need a healthy and balanced mix of housing types that appeal to single women. couples and families. We have compiled comments and suggestions about the revitalization strategy; click here to see the letter we wrote to the project manager. 

City Council recently approved the George Street Redevelopment Project with a revamped Seaton House as the focus. For details click here. 

They are looking for interested residents to sit on the advisory committee.  For the breakdown of who has been invited to sit on the Stakeholder Advisory Group click here.  If you are interested we suggest you fill out the attached application.  

George Street has several rundown properties which the City's Heritage Department hope to see restored as part of the Seaton House redevelopment.  A Heritage Study is now in the works for the area.

We highly recommend you forward your ideas and comments about the neigbourhood immediately to our west to all of the following:


George Street Redevelopment Project, 
Leah Ross, Project Manager, 
George Street Redevelopment Project, 
Guilio Cesato City Planner,

Councillor Pam McConnell,

Ward 27 Councillor Krisytn Wong Tam,


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