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Regent Park is a neighbourhood located in downtown Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker. Formerly the centre of the Cabbagetownmarker neighbourhood, it is bounded by Gerrard Street East to the north, River Street to the east, Shuter Street to the south, and Parliament Street to the west. Over 50% of the population living in Regent Park are children 18 years and younger (compared to a Toronto-wide average of 30%).

The average income for Regent Park residents is approximately half the average for other Torontonians. A majority of families in Regent Park are classified as low-income, with 68% of the population living below Statistics Canada's Low-Income Cut-Off Rate in one of its census tracts, and 76% in the other (compared to a Toronto-wide average of just over 20%). See related articles, Poverty in Canada.

Regent Park's residential dwellings are entirely social housing, and cover all of the 69 acres (280,000 m²) which comprise the community. Regent Park is Canada's oldest and largest social housing project, having been built in the late 1940s. The Toronto neighbourhood then known as Cabbagetownmarker was razed in the process of creating Regent Park; the nickname Cabbagetown is now applied to the historical, upscale area north of the housing project.

Redevelopment

Progress of redevelopment in August 2008
Regent Park in winter.
More than a half-century old, the Regent Park projects were aging rapidly and were in need of costly repairs. The city government developed a plan to demolish and rebuild Regent Park over the next ten years, with the first phase having started fall 2005. The addition of market units on site will double the number of units in Regent Park. Former street patterns will be restored and housing will be designed to reflect that of adjacent neighbourhoods (including Cabbagetownmarker and Corktownmarker), in order to end Regent Park's physical isolation from the rest of the city.

In support of the Clean and Beautiful City campaign by Mayor David Miller, and to further the goal of elevating architecture in all Toronto Community Housing Corporation projects, an architectural competition was held for the design of the first apartment building in the complex. Toronto-based architects Alliance was selected winner of the competition, with a modern glass point tower set on top of a red-brick podium structure in their proposal.

As one of Toronto's poorest neighbourhoods, Regent Park has been stigmatized as a bastion of immeasurable poverty and despair. However, evidence has proven the contrary; there is a strong sense of community that pervades Regent Park and its diversity is reflected in the city's diversity. Certainly, the revitalization process will modernize Regent Park, however it remains to be seen whether or not it will effectively reduce the neighbourhood's poverty and stigma.

The redevelopment has been criticized by housing activists such as John Sewell for possibly reducing the number of rent-geared-to-income units located within Regent Park, and for allegedly concentrating these units in buildings that will be exclusively low-income. Despite these allegations, the City approval of the redevelopment is conditional on the replacement of all of the rent-geared-to-income units that existed in Regent Park prior to the commencement of redevelopment. A small number of the rent-geared-to-income units, however, can be rebuilt in other locations in the east Downtown, outside of Regent Park itself.

Evolution from a transitional community to a residential community

Regent Park was originally designed as a transitional community. It was to house people experiencing financial difficulties, for whatever reason. Most residents were on social assistance, and working residents paid rent proportional to their income. In the last two decades Regent Park has also become an immigrant settlement community, as immigrants facing difficulties settling in Canada end up living there. Thus, the community is always viewed and administrated as a transitional community. This contributed to the concentration of a socially marginalized population, and various social ills of Regent Park. In particular, a transitional community failed to generate the awareness, interest, and commitment of its residents to invest in the development and sustainability of a higher quality of life.

The revitalization has provided an opportunity for the community to transform itself into a residential community. The mixed income housing model is aimed towards this end. However, critics allege that the revitalization maintains segregation and separate treatment of the poor, as it allegedly keeps the assisted-rent and the market-rent units separate. Also, critics claim that revitalization will eventually eliminate the poor population that presently resides in Regent Park.

Regent Park community groups and service agencies

Various community groups have been highly active in promoting a positive sense of community and community representation, and in pursuing a higher quality of life. Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative is one such organization, which mission is "to provide leadership in building and sustaining a healthy and vibrant community." Another such organization is Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre, which "uses media technology as a tool to employ young people, enhance resiliency, bridge information gaps, increase civic engagement, promote health and effect positive change." Pathways to Education is a program of the Regent Park Community Health Centre that promotes "individual health and the health of the community by addressing the two principal social determinants of health: education and income." Moreover, there are various cultural associations such as Regent Park Tamil Cultural Association, which aim to promote intra and inter cultural development and exchange, and to foster a healthier community.

Political representation and administration of Regent Park

Canada consists of 308 electoral districts, and Regent Park is located in the Toronto Centre riding. For city administration, each district is divided into two city wards. Regent Park is located in Ward 28.

Regent Park Political Representation
People Representatives in Government Member of Toronto City Council Pam McConnell
Member of Provincial Parliament George Smitherman
Member of Parliament Bob Rae


TCHC Tenant Participation System in Regent Park

In 2002 Toronto City Councillors recognized the need for increased tenant participation in the day to day management of housing. As a result, TCHC initiated the Tenant Participation System (TPS). The first election for TPS was held in 2003, and a subsequent election was held in 2006. The tenant representatives were volunteers representing a constant number of adjacent units. Overall the formal mechanism set up to give tenants voice in the day to day management of the Regent Park had a positive impact. For instance, lighting in Regent Park has improved as a direct result of the TPS representatives requests. However, the mechanism developed for the whole of Toronto’s various housing communities need to adopt to local conditions in order to meet the needs of the Regent Park residents more effectively.

Regent Park public services

Transportation

Regent Park is served by the Toronto Transit Commission’s streetcar routes: 501, 505, 506, and the route: "65 Parliament" bus. The streetcars provide quick access to the Yonge subway line.

The Don Valley Parkway is a major highway that goes by Regent Park.

Libraries

Regent Park is served by two close public libraries. The Toronto Public Librarymarker – Parliament branch is located at Gerrard and Parliament junction, and houses a special local history archive about Regent Park. The other nearby branch is the Riverdale branch, and it is located at Gerrard and Broadview junction.

Emergency services

The Toronto Fire Services station 325 is Regent Park's fire station, and located at 475 Dundas Street. The Toronto Police Service – 51 Division is responsible for the community. It was once located in the community at 30 Regent Street, and it has now moved to near by 51 Parliament Street.Paramedics serving the Regent Park area are deployed from Toronto Emergency Medical Services Station 40. Station 40 is an Advanced Life Support and Basic Life Support station staffed with Level II (Advanced Care Paramedic) and Level I (Primary Care Paramedic) crews located at 58 Richmond St E.

Housing

The majority of the buildings in Regent Park are owned and operated by Toronto Community Housing the public low income housing administrator in Toronto. Regent Park is the "Community Housing Unit 27" managed by TCHC, and its manager is Ade Davies.

Child care

Regent Park has a very young population. The Regent Park Child Care Centre cares for infants and toddlers.

Social, economic, and political issues in Regent Park

Regent Park is characterized by a high rate of poverty and unemployment, and is home to an immigrant and marginalized population. It experiences a higher rate of violence, crime, drug abuse, and social ills compared to many other Toronto communities.

Police and residents relations

As late as 2001 the relation between some residents and police was confrontational. Police face tremendous challenges in providing protection and security to the community. Recently, the community and police relations have greatly improved. Police have adopted a community oriented, preventive, and collaborate approach, and indicate that they are more effective in providing security to the community.

Regent Park as a social experiment

Regent Park is Canada's first and the largest social housing project or a social engineering project. Thus, it has attracted the attention of various social science scholars and media. Scholar and activist Dr. Sean Purdy has written his thesis based on his research about Regent Park. His paper "Ripped Off" By the System: Housing Policy, Poverty, and Territorial Stigmatization in Regent Park Housing Project, 1951–1991 provides valuable insights about Regent Park.

The recent Regent Park Revitalization Plan is also viewed and undertaken as a pilot Canadian social re engineering effort. The federal and local governments view the plan as means to establish best practices and bench marks. Although such enthusiasm adds to the momentum of the revitalization plan, the Regent Park history warrants caution as not to repeat or reproduce the shortcomings of its past.

In addition, Norman Rowen, Program Manager of The Pathways to Education Program, and researcher Kevin Gosine have published research that documents the success of Pathways in improving academic achievement and reducing the high school dropout rate among Regent Park youth.

List of academic literature

  • Purdy, Sean. "Framing Regent Park: the National Film Board of Canada and the Construction of Outcast Spaces in the Inner City, 1953 and 1994," Media, Culture and Society (UK), Vol.27, no.4 (July 2005).


  • Purdy, Sean. "By the People, For the People: Tenant Organizing in Toronto’s Regent Park Housing Project in the 1960s and 1970s," Journal of Urban History, Vol.30, no.4 (May 2004), 519-548.


  • Rowen, Norman and Kevin Gosine. "Support that Matters: A Community-Based Response to the Challenge of Promoting Academic Achievement Among Impoverished Youth," in B.J. McMahon and D.E. Armstrong (Eds), Inclusion in Urban Educational Environments: Addressing Issues of Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing (2006), 277-299.
  • Luisa Veronis. "Exploring the Margin: The Borders between Regent Park and Cabbagetown"


Books about Regent Park

  • Albert Rose. 1958. Regent Park: A Study in Slum Clearance. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


Documentaries



Musical references to Regent Park

  • "Rub a dub style inna Regent Park" by Toronto dub poet Lillian Allen, from her Juno winning 1986 album, Revolutionary Tea Party.
  • "Born and Raised In The Ghetto" by Toronto hip hop group Point Blank.


References

  1. Tenant Participation System · Toronto Community Housing
  2. Toronto Public Library > Hours & Locations > Branches A-Z > Parliament Street Library
  3. Toronto Public Library > Hours & Locations > Branches A-Z > Riverdale Library
  4. City of Toronto: Toronto Fire Services - Fire operations
  5. Toronto Police Service :: To Serve and Protect
  6. http://www.torontohousing.ca/tenant_life/units/default.asp?load=ch27
  7. City of Toronto: Children's Services - Municipal Child Care - Regent Park Child Care Centre
  8. http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_05.17.01/news/citystate.html
  9. Sean Purdy | "Ripped Off" By the System: Housing Policy, Poverty, and Territorial Stigmatization in Regent Park Housing Project, 1951–1991 | Labour/Le Travail, 52 | The Histor...


External links

* Regent Park Revitalization Plan
* City of Toronto: Regent Park Neighbourhood Profile


See also

List of neighbourhoods in Toronto



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