7 News Archive
Regent Park

Regent Park is one of the oldest public housing projects in Canada. Approved in the mid-1940s and finally completed by 1960, Regent Park consisted of high- and low-rise, subsidized apartment buildings in the area of Toronto bordered by Gerard, River, Shuter and Parliament Streets. Designed to replace a part of the East downtown neighbourhood of Cabbagetown that city officials had designated as a "slum," the construction of Regent Park North (the housing in the area above Dundas) and then Regent Park South (the area below Dundas) displaced thousands of residents, many of whom did not end up moving into the project upon completion.

Initially celebrated as a modernist achievement that would produce well housed, active citizens, over time the media increasingly depicted Regent Park as a site of alienation, vice and crime. While "Canada's most notorious housing project" may not have fulfilled the intent of its designers, however, it would be wrong to depict it as an outright failure. For years the local residents association, the Regent Park Community Improvement Association, strove, and in many cases succeeded, in improving the lives of its tenants. For a short period during the 1970s the RPCIA even managed the entire on site work staff. Their efforts were, however, frustrated by a provincial and federal government that were increasingly wary of funding public housing. Local solidarity was also frustrated by instances of racist violence and police brutality across Toronto during the 1970s and after that were acutely felt within Regent Park.

In 2005 Toronto began to demolish Regent Park with the intent of rebuilding it as mixed-income housing.

Kevin Brushett, "Blots on the Face of the City: The Politics of Slum Housing and Urban Renewal in Toronto 1940-1970" (PhD diss., Queen's University, 2001)

Sean Purdy, "Ripped Off" by the System: Housing Policy, Poverty, and Territorial Stigmatization in Regent Park Housing Project, 1951-1991," Labour/Le Travail 52 (Fall 2003).

Sean Purdy, "It was tough on everybody": Low-Income Families and Housing Hardship in Post-World War 2 Toronto," Journal of Social History Vol. 37, no. 2 (Winter 2003), 457-482

Sean Purdy, "By the People, for the People: Tenant Organizing in Toronto's Regent Park Housing Project in the 1960s and 1970s," Journal of Urban History, Vol 30 (2004)