Caring for gay oldsters

Developer pitches retirement home plan

A developer pitching a retirement home to gay seniors admitted during his sales presentation that he hadn’t thought about ensuring gay-positive staff.

“I never thought of the issue,” said developer Bob Forrest. “There are some things here that I need to get sensitized to.”

He then committed to making it a number one item on his agenda for


Forrest was answering a question from the floor at a Jan 15 Prime Timers meeting (that’s a group for gay men over 40).

Forrest has four retirement residences on the go – three are approved, but not built. He’s also the developer, designer and builder of Mosaic Midtown retirement residences for gay and lesbian seniors and condos, which will be built in the ghetto area. Marketing will begin in April.

Forrest agrees that it’s important to hire staff who are sensitive to the needs of gay men and lesbians.

“Whether that floor [the homo floor] is subscribed or not, there are bound to be gays and lesbians living in the building.”

Audience member Jack Harmer had raised the question of staff sensitivity – and cited abuse and other horror stories related to caregivers for the elderly.

Mosaic Midtown condos and residences are to be built on a site just east of Yonge St and west of Church, sandwiched between Hayden and Charles streets.

Forrest doesn’t own the land; it was inherited by a Vancouver family. But as its developer, he will receive a piece of the money.

Mosaic Midtown is slotted to be a 16-storey building with separate entrances for condos and retirement residences. The condos will be located on the top floors and retirement residences on bottom floors. The elevator will stop at a fifth floor “club” which

separates the condos from the retirement residences. The floor will include some three restaurants, two guest suites, billiards and an on-duty nurse. There will be a rooftop terrace and a greenhouse for gardening.

The average condo price is $163,000 for 611 square feet. Retirement

residences come with three meals a day, laundry and housekeeping.

(Originally, around the spring of last year, Forrest intended for a nursing home to be built, but he couldn’t pull together a bid fast enough. After all the hospital closings, the Ontario premier offered to give the leftover beds to non-profits. Forrest approached Downtown City Councillor Kyle Rae and offered to put in an application on behalf of a gay non-profit, but with only one week notice, the plan dissolved into Mosaic Midtown.)

“It’s in the hands of this group to decide whether or not seniors in the community would like to reserve a floor for this community,” said Rae.


Community members agree.

“What makes a community viable is what we’ve made of it,” said Prime Timer Tim Devlin. “While we want to integrate, not necessarily all straights do.”

This is not the first attempt to create space specifically for gay and lesbian seniors. In the 1980s, GALA (Gays And Lesbians Aging) proposed a bid to create a similar plan.

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Health, Power, Politics, Canada, Toronto

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