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Build Toronto given deadline for deal with Eva's Phoenix shelter

The residential units at Eva's Phoenix shelter. Eva's Phoenix is part of Eva's Initiatives, shelters for homeless and at-risk youth. The shelters provide residence .

Sami Siva/The Globe and Mail/Sami Siva/The Globe and Mail

Build Toronto, the city's arm's-length real-estate and development corporation, has been given a final deadline to find a viable relocation plan for a renowned youth homeless shelter.

Eva's Phoenix, which has housed more than 1,200 of Greater Toronto's most vulnerable young people at two city properties near Bathurst and King Streets, must make way for the city's plans to redevelop the area.

The shelter has been working on relocation plans with Build Toronto, but no agreement has been reached. On Wednesday, the city's governing management committee voted that the two parties must reach a deal by Nov. 29 – the date of city council's next meeting. If an agreement isn't in place, council will decide what happens next.

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Some current and past residents of the shelter voiced their support for Eva's Phoenix at Wednesday's meeting.

Councillor Mike Layton, whose Trinity-Spadina ward includes Eva's Phoenix, says both sides will meet on Thursday to discuss possible solutions.

"We're technically no closer to an actual deal … but the mandate was reaffirmed to Build Toronto that they need to make this happen, or else the property shouldn't be transferred," he said.

"I'm not confident, but I'm certainly optimistic we can meet that deadline," said Maria Crawford, executive director of Eva's Initiatives, the group that runs the shelter. Eva's Initiatives says an agreement on the move should include a new location and a plan for who will bear the cost.

The shelter follows a three-pronged approach to dealing with youth homelessness: providing housing for up to a year, getting the young people jobs and giving them an education. But just four months after the shelter celebrated the grand opening of a $1-million new wing, the land it sits on was put on a list of properties the City of Toronto wants to sell.

"Eva's didn't get asked to be put into this situation, and nor did we want to be involved in relocating a tenant. So everyone is a little outside their comfort zone and we just have to move forward as best as we can," said John Macintyre, Build Toronto's senior vice-president of corporate affairs.

Mr. Macintyre said any transfer agreement that the city considers would have to include plans for relocation, and Build Toronto is committed to finding a solution.

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