Wednesday, November 17, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY
TORONTO — It’s supposed to be an urban-planning model – an example of what millions of dollars and decades of prepping, razing and rebuilding can do to transform a 60-year-old poverty enclave into a mixed-income downtown neighbourhood.
But right now, Regent Park is reeling after a string of shootings left three dead in as many weeks. Parents say they are afraid to let their children out after dark, even for the area’s free tutoring programs. Police have set up a neighbourhood-specific unit, in which officers conduct around-the-clock patrols that are as much about community engagement as they are about stopping crime.
Regent Park’s re-imagining is far from finished, and it will be years before the verdict is in on its success. Right now, residents of the 2,083 social-housing units are in flux – some already in new units, some in old ones waiting for demolition to begin, and others temporary townhouses while construction is in progress.
In the meantime, some argue the fear inspired by the recent violence and uncertainty over how well the renewal will work raise questions about exporting this model to social-housing complexes in the city’s most troubled neighbourhoods.