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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Rethinking Redevelopment at Regent Park Film Fest

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Still from Voices of Cabrini

Though there’s urban development panels aplenty in Toronto, few of them have taken place in the neighbourhood that’s currently experiencing the biggest change: Regent Park.

So I’m hoping to make it over there tomorrow afternoon to check out Rethinking Redevelopment, a panel of filmmakers and residents talking about whether such large-scale slash-and-burn strategies are a good idea in any city, Toronto included. It’s part of the Regent Park Film Fest, which kicked off Wednesday and wraps up Sunday.

Some interesting films will screen to get discussion started, including Brooklyn Matters, a doc on contested development in the once-affordable borough, and Voices of Cabrini, which looks at the teardown of Cabrini Green, Chicago’s best-known public housing development, by a federal program aimed to get rid of high-rise public housing. There’s also a locally produced doc on the Cabbagetown Restaurant.

It all gets started at 1pm at Nelson Mandela Public School, 440 Shuter East. Admission, far as I can tell, is free.

Image from Voices of Cabrini



  1. Sadly, I lost my wallet around noon today (Saturday), just as I was leaving the house for this event. If you made it, I’m looking forward to hearing about how it went.

  2. I missed two of the three films, but the one I saw (Voices of Cabrini) was great. The Q & A and panel discussion were also really good. I think that the point that was being raised is that it is important to recognize that the “revitalization” of Regent Park can also be understood as the gentrification of Regent Park. There are both positives and negatives associated with gentrification, and as the films presented illustrate, these kinds of redevelopment projects can serve to destroy amazing (yet low-income) communities and all evidence of their existence, further marginalize already marginalized people, and eat away at our social housing stock. While Regent Park has been handled a lot better in terms of public participation and consultation, we still need to keep a close eye on what’s going on and not assume that it’s a “win-win” as all the so-called “progressives” in the city would have us believe. As it was pointed out by Regent Park residents during the discussion, Regent Park residents were/are mixed in their feelings about the project. It’s a complex situation, and needs to be recognized as such. Will the residents of Regent Park find new homes in the new development? Will they feel welcome there? What kind of relationships will the condo owners have with their neighbours in social housing? These are the kinds of questions we should be asking. It was the goal of the panel’s organizers to create a dialogue about these issues, and this event was a great way to do that. I hope it continues.

  3. Thanks for the report, Melissa. I can very much understand how there would be mixed feelings around the Regent Park redevelopment. I wonder how people have or have not been guaranteed spots back in the development. I wish I had been there.

    I did get out later in the day once my wallet issue was resolved and saw “Dark Days” at Camera Bar on Queen West. This doc, part of regular programming at Camera, is still on issues of housing in the end. It’s about a group of people who lived in the Amtrak tunnels in NYC until the company kicked them out… thankfully not to the streets, but with the help of a US federal program, to public housing apartments that the relocated people were very happy with.

    I hope this discussion around “redevelopment”/gentrification of public housing continues as well.

  4. Dark Days is amazing. Just as amazing in my opinion, is the “making of” doc that accompanies the film on the DVD. I would highly recommend checking it out. It adds a whole other dimension to the film, and REALLY shouldn’t be relegated to being a mere “extra” on the DVD…if I had my way, the film and “making of” would always be shown together…