Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative
Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative is a Community development organization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that was founded in 2002 by a group of Regent Park residents to assess the well-being of residents living in Regent Park during the revitalization.
Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative (RPNI), originally named the Regent Park Resident Council (RPRC), started as a group of Regent Park residents who were concerned about issues within the area. They wanted to work together with local politicians to make lasting, positive change for their community. One of the most significant changes they wanted to see was a community revitalization, for which they had been advocating since the mid-1980s. In 2000, after 5 years of strong advocacy, the City approved a plan to redevelop and revitalize Regent Park over the next 15 years. All of the existing homes were to be demolished and replaced with a mix of affordable, market housing, and home-ownership. In addition, streets were to be opened and commercial space would be available. The primary focus of RPNI became connecting with the residents to discuss and plan the revitalization.
Residents recognized that the design and layout of the neighbourhood could be improved with the introduction streets and businesses, which were not currently present. RPNI worked with Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) and championed the “right to return agreement,” enabling residents who had to be relocated due to the redevelopment the ability to come back when their homes were replaced (if meeting certain criteria). In addition, RPNI was instrumental in the development of the 12 guiding principles of the revitalization:
1. Renew the Regent Park neighbourhood
2. Re-introduce pedestrian-friendly streets and park spaces
3. Design a safe and accessible neighbourhood
4. Involve the community in the process
5. Build on cultural diversity, youth, skills and energy
6. Create a diverse neighbourhood with a mix of uses including a variety of housing, employment, institutions and services
7. Design a clean, healthy and environmentally responsible neighbourhood
8. Keep the same number of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) units
9. Minimize disruption for residents during relocation
10. Develop a financially responsible strategy
11. Create a successful Toronto neighbourhood
12. Improve the remaining portion of Regent Park during redevelopment.
In 2004 the RPRC changed its focus to be better equipped for the changing community. Now called the Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative (RPNI), the organization's goal is to work with the whole community to ensure Regent Park is a healthy and vibrant community where everyone belongs, is heard and celebrated.