Saskatchewan·Special Report

‘Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood’ needs more attention: community leaders, residents

Despite signs of hope in 'Canada's Worst Neighbourhood' eight years after the Maclean's article published, community leaders say North Central could be doing much better if the many agencies and levels of government working there coordinated their efforts.

Signs of hope and ongoing troubles in North Central Regina

North Central Report Card

9 years ago
Duration 0:18
CBC's iTeam returns to North Central to see if the community has improved 8 years after it was dubbed 'Canada's Worst Neighbourhood' by Maclean's Magazine.

The former executive director of the North Central Community Association said from the day Maclean’s Magazine published the ‘Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood’ article he saw it as a positive thing, and he still holds that view.

“For the first time at least we got some attention for the things we were struggling with in the inner city,” Rob Deglau told CBC’s iTeam.

However he said the neighbourhood could be doing much better if the many agencies and levels of government working there coordinated their efforts.

Deglau said much of the outrage about the 2007 Maclean’s Magazine article merely highlighted the unwillingness of some people to look the community’s problems square in the face.

“All this denial was terrible,” Deglau recalled. “The reality was from an inner city perspective, yeah this stuff’s happening. We need to do something about it.”

He said there have been many positive things done with the money that flowed to the community at a greater rate following the article.

“You had people standing up and saying ‘I’m from Regina. This is not going to happen in my city.’”

Lack of coordination in North Central

Despite improvements over the past eight years, North Central remains one of the most crime-ridden neighbourhoods in Regina. (CBC)
Deglau said one of the most helpful initiatives in North Central was the Regina Inner City Community Partnership, which was started a few years prior to the Maclean’s article.

It was a regular meeting of government and community agencies; a chance to plan and evaluate.

Deglau said they would ask questions like “What’s our stats? How have we done? What’s our report card?”

But Deglau said that initiative has faded away.

“We’ve all broken up into our silos again,” Deglau explained. “So right hand’s not knowing what the left hand is doing.”

He said that sort of regular evaluation would help everyone focus on the many problems that remain.

He said that may also help preserve valuable programs that in his view have made a significant difference.

He’s frustrated that in 2011 funding for the Regina Anti-Gang Strategy (RAGS) was eliminated.

“The sad reality is we used to run one of North America’s top gang exit strategies and that’s no longer funded. Is there no more gangs? By all means there’s still gangs. So why aren’t we still running programming like that?”

Deglau said it’s important to make sure that while some parts of the community make progress others don’t get left behind.

“Our jails are full. We’ve got people that are homeless. So we’re managing it. We’re not solving it,” Deglau explained.

“And I think that’s where our energy needs to go.”

More aboriginal involvement needed

Rob Deglau, former executive director of the North Central Community Association, says he sees the Maclean's Magazine article that declared the area 'Canada's Worst Neighbourhood' as a positive thing. (CBC)
North Central resident and activist Connie Dieter said in her view aboriginal people aren’t being sufficiently included in finding solutions to the problems.

She said many of the community’s service agencies “are getting grants to hire non-aboriginal people to provide services which are not First Nations driven.”

She said “they’ve turned us into an industry, quite frankly.”

Dieter argued research shows “most of the healing opportunities or the healing practises come from from First Nations traditions and practises. We know that works.”

She said 80 to 90 per cent of the clients of social service agencies in Regina are aboriginal therefore as a condition of funding “they should have 80 or 90 percent aboriginal or First Nations staff.”

“I think allowing first nations people to have more control over their future in terms of control over who’s going to provide health services or healing services to them is key.”

Resident not seeing much improvement

Connie Deiter is a local activist and says aboriginal people aren’t being sufficiently included in finding solutions to the problems in North Central Regina. (CBC)
From Betty Hamilton’s perspective, the key to improving North Central is better enforcement of the law.

The senior citizen moved into the neighbourhood six years ago, shortly after the Maclean's article was published.
She lives with her daughter and said “we’ve lost literally thousands of dollars worth of stuff” to theft in the neighbourhood.

“We tried to report it to the police,” Hamilton explained. “And the comment I got was ‘well what do you expect? It’s North Central.’”

In Hamilton’s view “North Central would be a wonderful neighbourhood to live in if the police would get off their sorry butt and start paying attention to those of us who live here.”

“We’re not all drug addicts. We’re not all pimps. We’re not all prostitutes. Some of us are mouthy old ladies like me.”


Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo is a Michener Award nominated investigative journalist and a Canadian Screen Award winning documentary producer and director. He has been covering Saskatchewan stories since 2001. Email Geoff at