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Location of Regent Park within Toronto
Regent Park is a neighbourhood located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Regent Park is Canada's oldest and largest social housing project; built in the late 1940s. The project is managed by Toronto Community Housing. Formerly the centre of the Cabbagetown 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.
The average income for Regent Park residents is approximately half the average for other Torontonians. 41% of the population living in Regent Park are children 18 years and younger (compared to a Toronto-wide average of 30%). 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, prior to the ongoing redevelopment, were entirely social housing, and covered all of the 69 acres (280,000 m²) which comprise the community. The Toronto neighbourhood, formerly known as Cabbagetown, 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Redevelopment
- 3 Community groups and service agencies
- 4 Political representation and administration
- 5 TCHC Tenant Participation System in Regent Park
- 6 Community facilities
- 7 Social, economic, and political issues
- 8 Regent Park as a social experiment
- 9 Notable residents
- 10 References
- 11 External links
- 12 See also
Regent Park, and adjoining areas of the Old City's eastend, were home to some of Toronto's historic slum districts in the early 1900s. Most residents of the area were poor and working-class people of British and Irish descent, along with smaller numbers of continental European Jewish and Balkan immigrants. Concern over crime and social problems in the area, as well as substandard housing, led to plans for affordable housing during the Second World War. These plans came to fruition soon after the end of the war, when the Regent Park North public housing project was approved in 1947. Families began to move into Regent Park North in 1949, but construction continued into the 1950s. The last families moved into Regent Park North in 1957. In subsequent years, more public housing units were built in Toronto, including Regent Park South, which was completed in 1960.
Although Regent Park was originally designed to alleviate the area's substandard housing, crime, and social problems, these issues soon reemerged. By the mid-1960s, for example, there were complaints about the housing projects falling into a state of disrepair. Changes to the Canadian immigration system in the 1960s led to an influx of multicultural and multiethnic immigrants into the country. Some of these people, including immigrants from the Caribbean, China, and Southeast Asia, settled in Regent Park in the 1960s and 1970s, changing the ethnic and racial composition of the neighbourhood. Meanwhile the area continued to have a reputation of crime. In the first decade of the 21st century a new redevelopment plan for Regent Park was implemented. This plan called for Regent Park to be redeveloped as a mixed-income neighbourhood. Because of the area's proximity to the downtown core, it is potentially high value real estate.
More than a half-century old, the Regent Park projects were aging rapidly and 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 Cabbagetown and Corktown), 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 former mayor David Miller, and to further the goal of renewing 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 architectsAlliance was selected winner of the competition, with a modern glass point tower set on top of a red-brick podium structure in their proposal.
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.
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 (RPNI) 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
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.
|People Representatives in Government||Member of Toronto City Council||Pam McConnell|
|Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP)||Glen Murray|
|Member of (Federal) Parliament (MP)||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.
The Don Valley Parkway is a major highway that runs to the east of the neighbourhood.
The Toronto Fire Services station 325 is Regent Park's fire station, and located at 475 Dundas Street East. 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 nearby 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 Street East.
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.
Most units are low rise apartment units bounded by Gerrard Street, Parliament Street, Dundas Street and River Street. The units are three storey brick buildings with central balconies.
On the south side of Dundas Street the housing consists of 5 high rise apartment towers with two storey townhomes on the east and west sides.
Schools and libraries
Regent Park is served by two public libraries. The Toronto Public Library Parliament branch is located at the corner of Gerrard and Parliament streets, and houses a special local history archive about Regent Park. The other nearby library is the Riverdale branch located at the junction of Gerrard Street and Broadview Avenue.
There are two Toronto District School Board schools located within the neighbourhood:
- Nelson Mandela Park Public School on Shuter Street - first opened 1853 as Park Public School (current building built 1914-1917) and renamed in 2001 when Park Public School and Park Senior Public School merged after the late South African President Nelson Mandela; school serves Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8.
- Regent Park/Duke of York Junior Public School on Regent Street - opened 1958 as Regent Park PS and merged with Duke of York PS (located at 14 Pembroke Street and now ecole publique Gabrielle Roy of the Conseil scolaire Viamonde) during the period of 1977-1980.
Social, economic, and political issues
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
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.
- "Return to Regent Park" by the National Film Board of Canada
- Invisible City by Hubert Davis
- " A Way Out" by Christene Browne
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.
- "Southside Anthem" by Toronto rapper Roney ft Y.H
- Tenant Participation System · Toronto Community Housing
- City of Toronto: Toronto Fire Services - Fire operations
- Toronto Police Service :: To Serve and Protect
- City of Toronto: Children's Services - Municipal Child Care - Regent Park Child Care Centre
- 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...
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