Bulldozed buildings, fatal shootings, uprooted residents: Is Regent Park revitalization crumbling?


Fatima Animer, 16, and her brother Moubachar Animer, 14, in Regent Park.
(Photo by Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 – Globe and Mail

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.

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Almost home: Toronto’s Regent Park at a crossroads

Saturday, May 29, 2010 – Globe and Mail

TORONTO — Yasin Khawaja and his family know they’re almost home. The 22-year-old, his parents and two sisters are set to move into their apartment in Regent Park’s brand-new reincarnation.

They just don’t know when.

At first it was August. But earlier this month they were told to expect delays. Now the family waits on tenterhooks, a September reunion in Bangladesh facing postponement, until they find out their fate. “The whole thing has been kind of a mess,” he says.

But the tone in the Khawajas’ Shuter Street townhouse is one of excited, nervous anticipation when they talk about the upcoming move – a new building (with a balcony, he notes with pride), a new neighbourhood in the works and, maybe, a new way of providing social housing.

“They gave us choices, they gave us floor plans. … Whenever someone asks, ‘Where do you live?’ and I say, ‘Regent Park,’ they’re like, ‘Ohh, are you serious?’

“I’m hoping it’s better.”

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