Currently Regent Park is undergoing a massive redevelopment from a social housing neighbourhood to a mixed-income and mixed-use community.
One of the two plans governing the Regent Park redevelopment is the Regent Park Social Development Plan. The group charged with working with the City of Toronto to implement the plan is the Regent Park Social Development Stakeholder’s Table (also known as the SDP Stakeholder’s Table). The Stakeholder’s Table comprises of residents, agencies and grassroots groups in the Regent Park area and their mandate is to make decisions related to the development of social infrastructure that the community deems necessary to ensure that Regent Park is a cohesive and socially well functioning neighbourhood.
The following is RPTV’s report of the June 2, 2020, meeting of the Social Development Stakeholder’s Table held through the on-line application of Zoom. Approximately 25 people were in attendance.
Community committee reps Joel Klassen and Murshiba followed up on this presentation by reported on the work of connecting residents through the building of neighbourhood pods and upcoming community games been organized on-line by Regent Park Social, a website about Regent Park.
Following this report, the table once again heard from Ismail Afrah, about a proposal to have the RPNA Regent Park Community Benefits Coalition restructured as a new committee of the SDP Stakeholder’s Table. The Community Benefits Coalition is comprised of residents who are dedicated to ensuring that the selected developer for the final phrases of Regent Park will contribute long lasting benefits to the community in return for been granted the contract for developing Regent Park. As part of the proposal to restructure the coalition under the SDP table, Ismail recommended that terms of reference for this new committee be drafted by a sub-committee of residents from the coalition in partnership with TCHC, and be presented to the SDP table for approval. The terms of reference would also include a new name for the committee.
The proposal was unanimously adopted.
The next issue that was discussed was a proposal made by Abrahim Afrah to have the community adopt a song by Taylor Swift as the official song for Regent Park. The song in question was made with the involvement of local youth from the Regent Park School of Music. Abrahim showed media clips and lyrics of the song and explained that Taylor Swift donated the proceeds of royalties of the song to the Regent Park School of Music. Abrahim felt that the song emphasized the friendship and spirit of a community helping each other and indicated that there would be no cost associated with adopting the song.
In support of the proposal, a resident at the meeting, had her daughter explain their involvement in making the song.
An opposing view was put forth by another long standing resident, who argued that although he has great respect for the Regent Park School of Music and for the youth contribution, he did not feel that the song was inclusive enough to be the song of Regent Park. This resident felt that the lyrics of song could also be misinterpreted. Due to lack of time, no more discussion was held and the chair facilitated a vote on the issue.
Although the proposal to have the song be adopted by Regent Park, marginally had more votes then those opposing, it failed to gain enough votes to have it passed. The chair recommended that a future vote could be held on the issue when more time was available for discussion and debate.
The final agenda item that was discussed was presented by a community member related to a process for identifying priorities for the SDP funds. Known as a “deep dive” session, each committee would select representatives to attend a special session to present their committee’s priorities for funding and discuss all the proposals. The aim of the special session is to pared down the 1.5 million dollars of SDP requests into $500,000 budget. It was announced that this session would be held on June 11, 2020, but it has since moved to a different date.
With that issue settled the meeting ended.
To see the RPTV report of the June 2, 2020, Regent Park Social Development Stakeholders Table meeting please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA26oMZMuAc
By Adonis Huggins
(Adonis is a staff member of the Focus Media Arts Centre)