The final phase of Regent Park's revitalization got underway on Wednesday, continuing a three-phase project to give the community more infrastructure, amenities and housing.
The first two phases of the project were the construction of housing units which were sold at market rates, generating revenues which the city reinvested in the revitalization project.
In this phase, Toronto Community Housing Corporation will sell some land in the area to a residential developer, Daniels Corp., and build out more facilities. For instance, work has begun on the Regent Park Athletic Grounds, featuring soccer and cricket pitch, refurbished ice rink, running track and basketball courts.
For this construction, tenants of community housing must relocate. Sharifa Ali, a Regent Park resident, calls the relocation "devastating."
She and her young son have to move out of the neighbourhood for the construction. Her options for moving are to the Jane Street and Finch Avenue area, Scarborough near Morningside Avenue, or North York.
Moving to those neighbourhoods means moving her son into a different school and daycare. She is currently a student at Ryerson University, and has a placement nearby. She would have to get up at 4 a.m., she says, to get to school and her place of work.
"That's a lot of anxiety," she says, citing safety concerns, travel times and just the hardship of moving.
When the redevelopment process is complete, Regent Park's population will grow by almost 10,000, as it becomes a "mixed use" neighbourhood, from 7,500 currently to a projected 17,000.
Phase three of the development will build 614 rent-geared-to-income units, approximately 50 new affordable rental units, and six new market condominium buildings.
Regent Park as it is known today began as a transitional community and then a type of garden city, with many footpaths and parks, after the Second World War, in the 1948. It became isolated from downtown based on its closed-in design, with limited access to public transportation and roadways. Crime, drug abuse and poverty became defining issues for the neighbourhood during the 1980s and beyond.
The Regent Park Revitalization plan began in 2005, and is scheduled to be completed in 2025.