While the demolition and replacement of aging public housing stock has been the most visible element of the ongoing Regent Park Revitalization, much of the neighbourhood's recent success can be attributed to the addition of much-needed community amenities that have acted as cultural springboards for the neighbourhood's future viability.
The area's fabric of social infrastructure is now even richer, as representatives from the City of Toronto and Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) were on hand this past weekend to celebrate the official opening of the new Regent Park Community Centre, which replaces two earlier community centres that once served the area.
Designed by CS&P Architects, the two-storey community facility occupies Block 38 of the Regent Park Lands, immediately adjacent to Nelson Mandela Park Public School. The community centre adds new recreation facilities, an employment centre, the George Brown College-run Nelson Mandela Child Care Centre, and connections to the adjacent school.
Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale Councillor and Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell was joined by a TCHC representative and a local youth representative to officially open the new 5,500 square metre (59,000 square foot) facility with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
"It is amazing to celebrate the grand opening of another piece of important social infrastructure in Regent Park," Deputy Mayor McConnell told a packed room of locals and community builders. "This highly integrated space was designed with extensive input from the community and is a reflection of the social fabric of this dynamic neighbourhood."
The new facility offers a couple dozen rooms for all sorts of activities. Fitness facilities include a gymnasium, a fitness studio, a weight room, an indoor track, and change rooms.
Another fitness-themed offering in the new centre is a climbing wall which stretches two storeys skyward through an atrium.
The Regent Park Community Centre also offers residents of the community spaces such as a community hall, a teaching kitchen, multi-purpose rooms, youth and adult spaces, a courtyard and outdoor gathering spaces, and even a rooftop garden overlooking the surrounding neighbourhood.
Programming will help the new facility integrate into the community, and to achieve this, Toronto Employment and Social Services has partnered with Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services with an aim to offer a range of services such as access to computers, printers, free Wi-Fi and telephones, job coaching and guided job search support, onsite employment workshops, access to employment opportunities, and several more services and community events.
A statement from Mayor John Tory reads “Every neighbourhood needs places to play, learn and find support. The new Regent Park Community Centre will offer amazing city programs, facilities and supports that will help transform lives. The ongoing redevelopment of Regent Park is an example of how we can create strong and vibrant neighbourhoods in Toronto."
We will continue to watch the revitalized Regent Park neighbourhood take shape, and will be sure to return with updates. In the meanwhile, additional information about Regent Park developments can be found in the associated dataBase files linked below.