Regent Park Residents Say Toronto Sun Stories Criticizing Revitalization Effort are Unfair, Unfounded.
After teaching skills to other Regent Park residents at the local learning centre, Sureya Ibrahim walks home to her family in a new three-bedroom townhouse she loves.
Jasmin Razak has moved just outside of Regent Park, to a new Adelaide St. building, but returns almost daily to shop at the new supermarket, go to the new bank or earn some cash minding kids at the learning centre.
Human rights lawyer Kate Sellar visits the same shops, and on warm evenings pushes her 7-month-old son out of her Cole St. condo and through streets once known for gun calls and drugs.
The three moms were among more than 100 people who rallied Monday in front of a new Oak St. apartment building to show support for their neighbourhood’s ongoing revitalization.
They disputed recent columns by the Toronto Sun’s Sue Ann Levy. She suggested the celebrated effort to transform a troubled, stigmatized area into a safe, mixed-income neighbourhood, has displaced many low-income residents, and quoted some who say they now feel unwelcome.
Levy also raised questions about condo purchases by two former Toronto Community Housing Corp. officials, executives of project developer Daniels Corp., and local Councillor Pam McConnell. The buyers say they got no special access or price, but the TCHC board is hiring Patrick LeSage, a former Ontario Superior Court chief justice, to conduct a review.
“I cried when I moved out of my old place,” three years ago, Ibrahim said, explaining the uncertainty was scarier than living in the crumbling, depressing building demolished to make way for FreshCo grocery store.
Two years ago, the mother of three moved into a new TCHC Regent Park townhouse with rent set at 30 per cent of her monthly income. In great condition, with two bathrooms, it has been a huge improvement.
“We thought we might be divided, us and people with more money. But we were part of the (planning) meetings, our voice was heard, and you cannot differentiate people living in the (market value) condos or (subsidized) townhouses,” she said.
Razak isn’t officially a Regent Park resident but says her decision to move to a nearby building doesn’t make her less a part of the community. She walks to new stores and services in the neighbourhood, including Tim Horton’s and Scotiabank, that used to require a trip elsewhere.
Sellar said friends’ eyebrows shot up two years ago when she and her partner decided to move into Regent Park. She said they love it, and look forward to the day their son will go to the same school, and swim at the same aquatic centre, with friends of various incomes and ethnicities.
“What’s been lost in the discussion is the fact that profits from condo sales help fund the construction of rent-geared-to-income homes, and that at the end there will be more of that kind of housing,” she said.
The 15-year Regent Park plan is to use profits from the sale of more than 3,000 market-priced condos to help pay for the replacement of 2,083 new social housing units and to subsidize the cost 700 new affordable rental units.