January 2019 / Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
Comfort Inn Conversion to Men's Shelter: Update
By Derek Pinder
It’s been about three years since the decision was made to convert the Comfort Inn at 3306 Kingston Road into a new men’s shelter. Although there’s been a lot of activity at the site, the planned opening date has come and gone so we’ve made some enquiries as to what’s going on.
If you’ve ever done any home renovations you know that you can never tell what you’re going to find behind the walls or under the floors. It has been unforeseeable discoveries (including mould and an inadequate water supply) that have contributed to the delayed opening of the shelter which is now forecast to be spring 2019 at a cost of $12 million. In the meantime, a Community Liaison Committee has been formed to work with city agencies, the existing Birchmount Residence and local stakeholders to facilitate the integration of the shelter with the local community. The Committee includes local residents, businesses and community associations and is led by Paul Dowling, a third-party facilitator.
Adjacent to the future shelter is the notorious East Side Motel, and the announcement by the City of Toronto that it would purchase this property was met with universal approbation. After three years of efforts to negotiate a sale with the owner, the City took possession of the motel in August using its powers of expropriation. It will be demolished when a contractor has been hired and a permit issued. Various City departments are currently considering what should be done with the site “to respond to community needs” . . . one would be excused for wondering why this could not have been done during the three years of negotiation!
A public opening celebration will be held when the shelter is ready for occupancy.