Return to Regent Park
Ten thousand people live in Toronto’s Regent Park, Canada’s first large-scale public housing project. Built in a spirit of post-WWII optimism that social problems could be corrected through urban renewal, Regent Park replaced a working-class neighbourhood with a modern, park-like community of apartment buildings.
But, forty years later, it had become a paradigm of city planning failure. The physical isolation of Regent Park from the surrounding community had created a unique ghetto-like environment. Within its confines, many residents felt as if they are under siege by an army of outsiders who were using the park as a haven for drugs, prostitution and violent crime.
Frustrated by the apparent “benign neglect” of the Metro Housing Authority, groups of Regent Park residents banded together into committees organized by residents-turned-social-activists. They became persuasive advocates of the concept that Regent park required radical physical redevelopment in order to be successfully reintegrated within the larger social community.
Bay Weyman let the people of Regent Park tell their own story of desperation and hope. Featuring interviews with residents, activists, community organizers, local politicians, academic planners, and the police, the film compresses three stories into one: the failure of traditional urban renewal schemes, the impact of drugs and crime on an enclosed environment, and the positive effects of social redevelopment in which people are empowered with a newborn self-respect, changing the way they think about themselves and their community.
Director: Bay Weyman
Producers: Bay Weyman, Michael Allder(NFB)
Camera: Roger Rochat, Bay Weyman
Sound: Deedee Slye, Bay Weyman
Editor: David Ransley
Produced by Close Up Film Productions Ltd in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada, and CBC Newsworld, 1994
Running Time: 55:46