City staff working ‘flat out’ to restore hot water fully at men’s homeless shelter

Toronto’s largest homeless shelter has had limited hot water for a full week but officials say city staff are working “flat out” to install a new boiler to fix the problem.

Officials say the replacement boiler arrived at Seaton House, 339 George St , south of Gerrard Street East, in downtown Toronto on the weekend. Hot water became limited at the shelter on Oct. 20 at midday.

The boiler’s motor needs to be installed, gas and water lines need to moved, electrical work needs to be done, but officials say they hope to have full hot water service restored at the shelter early this week.

“The boiler is being replaced. Everyone is working flat out to get it in place and working ASAP,” Brad Ross, city spokesperson, said in a tweet on Sunday. “We are ensuring the health and safety of our clients is maintained at all times.”

Tammy Robbinson, another city spokesperson, said in an email to CBC Toronto on Sunday that there has been access to hot water in one shower area in one of the shelter’s programs due to a small, separate hot water tank. This program serves more than 100 shelter users.

As well, she said staff have told three community centres, Regent Park, John Innes and Wellesley, about the hot water problem and all they have showers open to the public. Shelter users have been informed of this option, she said.

The shelter is also providing users with alcohol-based hand sanitizers to ensure they can keep their hands clean.

“Once the boiler is fully operational, everything will be back to normal,” Robbinson said.

City apologizes to shelter users for ‘inconvenience’

Officials, meanwhile, apologized on Sunday to the men who use the shelter, saying they realize the limited hot water has affected operations at the facility.

“We are working to rectify the situation and apologize to our clients for the inconvenience,” Robbinson said.

“Currently, there is electrical, engineering and construction work happening so that operations can return to normal as quickly as possible.”

She said staff are cleaning the shelter with products designed to disinfect surfaces and floors.

Toronto Public Health has been notified to help monitor the problem, according to Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre.

“Staff are doing their best,” Wong-Tam said in a tweet on Saturday.

The shelter, which is currently at capacity, has room for 500 people on any given night.

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