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Every Diamond Starts as Coal

Updated: Jun 25, 2018

In a city as big as Toronto, one can easily live their life without really knowing what’s on the other side of the tracks. Over the years, Toronto has grown and adjusted to your busy schedule and a higher standard of living. Everything you need is now in close proximity to where you are, and it’s because of this that you may never learn that your neighbourhood is very different from mine.

With Toronto being the ‘Big Apple’ of Canada, it seems almost impossible to believe that, as little as seventy years ago, it was a home to neighbourhoods with some of the highest violence and drug-abuse rates in the country. The slums of the eastern downtown, now known as Regent Park area has been a concern for almost a century. With the first revitalization deemed a failure, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCH) has given the project a second go.

What once used to be Canada’s oldest and largest social housing community, is currently undergoing a fifteen to twenty-year revitalization process.  In 2005, with the help of former residents, the City of Toronto began to design a 69 acres master plan for a healthy and successful community.

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”                                                                                                                                                              – Stephen R. Covey

In efforts to create a cohesive environment, which is crucial to social development, upon completion, Regent Park will no longer consist entirely of social housing units. The new residential body of Regent Park will be composed of 70% market rate units and 30% social housing units. To further promote interaction of diverse social groups, the project team incorporated communal facilities and amenities into the new design.

The Regent Park Aquatic Centre has been open to the community since 2012, along with small shops, cafes and grocery stores. Other facilities such as Regent Park Athletic Grounds and general drug store are currently under construction.

The newly designed Central Park, located in the heart of the community, is key to it’s revitalization. Developed by The Planning Partnership landscape architects, the $6.2 million investment provides a natural recreational space where ideas and culture can flourish. The 4.2-acre park features a playground, splash pad, plaza for community events, dog off-leash area, multi-purpose green space, community gardens, greenhouse, walkways, and lush landscaping. Such diverse programming will create numerous opportunities for the residents of Regent Park to participate in outdoor activities and grow as a community.

Central Park entry plaza

Originally initiated by the residents of Regent Park, the revitalization project shows great promise in creating a healthy and safe community. What once used to be a slum, is now on its way of becoming the new gem of the city.


  • Developer: Toronto Community Housing Corporation

  • Architect: MJMA Architects, architects Alliance, Diamond Schmitt

  • Landscape architect: The Planning Partnership

  • Rental Units: 2083 (over 1800 in Regent Park and 266 in new buildings nearby)

  • Market Units: 5400

  • Project start date: 2005

  • Anticipated project length: 15-20 years

  • Total size: 69 acres

  • Retail space: Freshco by Sobeys, Rogers, Tim Hortons, RBC, Drug Mart and others.

  • Employment: 964

Project Timeline: 

  • 1995 – Tenants approach Toronto Community Housing about Revitalization

  • 2003 – City Council approves the Revitalization of Regent Park

  • 2006 – Toronto Community Housing selects Daniels as development partners

  • 2007 – City Council passes Social Development Plan, developed with residents

  • 2009 – Phase 2 construction begins

  • 2012 – Phase 1 completed

  • 2014 – Phase 3 construction begins

  • 2017 – Phase 2 completed (estimated)

  • 2019 – Phase 3 completed (estimated)

Regent Park construction phase plan

Posted on October 12, 2015 by Yuliya Platko

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