Men’s homeless shelter in Scarborough could move to a renovated hotel

TORONTO — As many as 60 homeless men over the age of 55 currently living at the Birchmount Residence in Scarborough may soon find a new place to stay.

The City of Toronto has plans to buy the Comfort Inn along the motel strip on Kingston Road and renovate it. It would then be able to house and support as many as 120 seniors.

“We have been looking at the last few years on different opportunities,” City Councillor Gary Crawford said.

“The opportunity to purchase this particular hotel came up and we think it’s going to be a good fit for the men, for the staff and for the community as well.”

According to the local councillor, the property next door would be part of any deal. The unsightly East Side motel is still open for business but a “source of contention” for those living in the near community.

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“It’s the right move. However, a comprehensive plan also needs to be in place,” Scarborough Community Renewal Campaign spokesman Dave Hardey said. “Kingston Road needs to be thought of as a living space.”

Residents in the neighbourhood looking for renewal welcome re purposing the properties that exist there now, but aren’t sure about a shelter moving in.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Devi Palaniappan said. “It’s not fair already. We have three motels and we have a lot of trouble at night.”

Alwan Ibrhaim owns a townhouse backing onto another hotel along the same stretch of road.

“When you were talking with the private residents in here they don’t want to live in a place where there is social housing,” he said.

The Birchmount Residence where the seniors now stay is a site that the city leases and has slowly been falling into disrepair since it opened in 1999.

A community meeting is scheduled for Nov. 17 to provide more information to those in the area.

More details, including a proposed budget for the purchase, will be discussed by City Hall’s Executive Committee on Dec. 1.

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