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Toronto's Mosaic
Regent Park: 1945-1970 | 1971-1990 | 1991-2010

Toronto Police Chief Bill BlairToronto Police Chief Bill Blair (CP PHOTO/Aaron Harris) View a larger version.

1991-2010: From Riot to Renewal

The late 80s through the early 90s was a difficult period for Regent Park. Crack cocaine, which began to seep into the area in 80s, took root in the 90s.

Drug-related and violent crime subsequently went up, as did tensions with the police. Police in 51 Division, where Regent Park is located, began to conduct weeks-long enforcement blitzes throughout the early 90s.

Residents complained of police harassment and mistreatment. In August 1995, these tensions boiled over as hundreds of residents and scores police officers scuffled in a violent fracas that came to be known as the "Riot in Regent Park."

Bill Blair, the newly appointed chief of the 51 division, sought to defuse some of these tensions by instituting more community-oriented policing. His policies achieved some success as residents reported an improved atmosphere in the area, although tensions still simmered.

Meanwhile, the project was nearing the end of its lifespan, and several of the buildings were showing their age. Redevelopment plans were proposed throughout the 90s, but a serious push for redevelopment didn't start until the turn of the century.

A resident checks the schedule for redevlopmentA resident checks the schedule for redevlopment,
Dec. 16, 2002 (Toronto Community Housing)
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Mixed income community

Like many of the redevelopment plans floated in the 90s, the blueprint that was finally endorsed by council in 2003 called for mixed-income development that included private housing available at market rates.

The plan, drafted after much consultation with residents, called for a mix of townhomes and mid- and high-rise apartment buildings.

It was received with cautious optimism by tenants, many of whom were enthusiastic about newer dwellings, improved facilities and a safer community. But some residents and anti-poverty groups wondered if residents will be pushed out by the influx of wealthier people.

A resident checks the schedule for redevlopmentNew public housing at 246 Sackville Ave. (Toronto Community Housing)
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The new buildings will conform to strict environmental standards that prioritize energy efficiency.

The demolition process of the old buildings was also carried out in a sustainable manner, with some of the interior cabinetry, interior wood, and windows being recycled. Crushed brick and concrete taken from the leveled buildings was salvaged and used in road building and infill.

Tenants already in new homes

The demolition of the old buildings began in February 2006. Construction on the first phase of the redevelopment began later that year, and the first families moved into new public housing units at 246 Sackville St. this May.

Phase one also includes an $11-million aquatic centre, a $60-million condominium, aimed at bringing in middle-to-higher income earners, and retail tenants like Tim Hortons, Sobeys, and a Royal Bank of Canada branch.

By the time construction is done in 2018, the existing 2,087 rental units will increase to 5,100, including 3,000 new units to be sold at market price.

Meet one of the first residents of 246 Sackville Ave.

Meet Residents of Regent Park

Tarak Ahmed
Tarak Ahmed
Tarak has a close-up view of challenges for Regent Park youth.
Linta Loganathan
Linta Loganathan
Linta's family first to move in to the new public housing on Sackville Ave.
Charita Edwards
Charita Edwards
Charita wrote a hard-hitting love letter to the old Regent Park.