By Walied Khogali Ali –
As a resident of Regent Park, I have been following the plans for phases 4 and 5 of our community’s redevelopment with great interest. While Toronto Community Housing Corporation and Tridel Builders are bringing much-needed housing to our neighbourhood, the current rezoning application is worrisome.
First and foremost, the lack of transparency and community input in the development process is troublesome. Despite claims of robust consultation, many residents wonder where the community’s desire for additional affordable housing and TCH units is expressed. Furthermore, the recent community consultation meeting raised more questions than provided adequate responses.
One major concern is the plan’s definition of affordable housing. Affordable housing must be based on income, not the state of the market, in order to truly address community needs. We also need more rent-geared-to-income subsidy commitments for new homes in phases 4 and 5, as well as a clear strategy for community facilities and services to support the many organizations operating in Regent Park.
Another major issue is the lack of a plan for a central community space that is community-governed through the Association of Community Centres. From the first three phases of the Regent Park redevelopment we learned that community-governed spaces are vital for achieving social cohesion and inclusion.
Moreover, the rezoning application fails to mention any community benefits to address the social costs of the proposed new density for Regent Park. It also leaves many critical questions unanswered, such as requirements for family-sized units, units for aging residents, units designed to be wheel-friendly, and the number of parking spots reserved for TCH tenants.
Residents of Regent Park have been waiting more than a decade to return to our community. It is not fair to keep us waiting another decade without clear commitments and transparent decision-making that prioritizes our needs and interests.
I urge Toronto Community Housing Corporation and Tridel Builders to listen to the Regent Park Neighbourhood Association and other community groups, and to prioritize community interests. We need affordable housing, community-governed spaces, and transparent decision-making in order to achieve social cohesion and inclusion.
For more information on the rezoning application, visit the Application Information Centre at www.toronto.ca/RegentPark4and5.
Let’s work together to build a better Regent Park for all residents.
Walied Khogali Ali is Co-Chair of the Community Benefits Oversight Working Group, Co-Chair of the Community Building Working Group – Social Development Plan – Stakeholders Table as well as a member of the Regent Park Neighbourhood Association