After two decades without a tenant, a retail space in the base of a Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) building at 261 Jarvis Street just north of Dundas, will finally come to life thanks to a $1.6 million, four-year investment by the Ontario provincial government. The new sport, education and research facility for at-risk youth was announced on February 11 by Premier Kathleen Wynne, who was joined at the site by Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Children and Youth Services. The provincial investment will be an important space which supports research for the provincial youth strategy, 'Stepping Up'.

Disused retail space at 261 Jarvis, image retrieved from Google Street View

To be operated by a partnership of the MLSE Foundation, TCHC, and the City of Toronto, the facility will provide 200,000 people between the ages of 6 to 25 from under-serviced communities with access to a multipurpose gymnasium, classrooms and a teaching kitchen, all in an environment designed to foster teamwork and healthy lifestyles. The goal of the new facility—set to open in 2017—is to give young underprivileged Ontarians access to the necessary resources to excel in life.

The funding for the project is part of the provincial government's enhanced Ontario Youth Action Plan, which will see $55 million in investment directed at providing services for youth in Ontario.

"MLSE LaunchPad will encourage teamwork and give young people the discipline and determination to help them tackle any challenge they face in life", said Premier Kathleen Wynne. "Our government is pleased to support these innovative programs, which will help youth develop the skills and habits they need to reach their full potential".

Along with the benefits that users of the facility will derive, this stretch of Jarvis Street will finally become lively, and a vital part of the quickly revitalize eastern shoulders of Toronto's Downtown area.