Letter to the editor - Toronto Star
Re: "Regent Park revitalization, has it created an "us vs. them" dynamic?" (June 16, 2012)
Researchers Sara Thompson and Sandra Bucerius raise a troubling question about whether revitalization may have had unintended consequences on Regent Park youth. We have asked the researchers to meet with us to share their findings. An overall goal of the Regent Park revitalization is to improve safety for all residents, part of which includes moving to evict tenants who commit or enable serious illegal acts.
We believe there are encouraging signs of progress on crime and safety in Regent Park. Reports of major crime have dropped significantly in the rebuilt areas, where the streets have been carefully redesigned to support a safe community. In recent consultations, an overwhelming majority of residents in the new buildings said they feel safe where they live. And the St. Michael's Hospital's Toronto Social Housing and Health Study led by Dr. Jim Dunn has found that residents of the new units experienced positive change in areas that can be directly connected to housing and neighbourhood improvements, such as feeling safer in their homes.
New construction will add an arts and cultural centre, aquatic centre, new park and community centre, all within the next two years. These amenities will improve quality of life and provide places that promote interaction between old and new residents. Agencies that support youth continue to operate preventative programs in the community, and work is under way to increase social cohesion and opportunities for Regent Park youth to participate in programmed sports and other activities.
There are many reasons for hope and optimism at Regent Park, as shown by the official opening this week of 40 Oaks, the new affordable housing and community hub owned by the Christian Resource Centre. We urge Toronto residents to see beyond the recent headlines to the real improvements that are already happening in Regent Park, thanks to the many partners working together with the community to make that vision a reality.
Eugene E. Jones, Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Toronto Community Housing
The Daniels Corporation