Monday, March 22, 2021

THE REGENT PARK COMMUNITY WEALTH FEASIBILITY STUDY

Initiated in January 2012, the Regent Park Community Wealth Initiative is exploring the potential for the developing a new sustainable economic model for the Regent Park community.

Regent Park is going through a massive transformation from a social housing community to a mix-income and mixed-use community. The revitalization, now in its fifteenth year, has given rise to various initiatives and opportunities. One recent initiative is the Community Wealth Feasibility Project.

The Community Wealth Feasibility Project is a partnership between the City of Toronto, Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), Young Street Mission (YSM), and the Employment and Economic Development table of the Social Development Plan (SDP). Initiated in January 2021, the project is exploring the feasibility of developing a new sustainable economic model for the Regent Park area by creating an environment that can nurture opportunities for community ownership, local entrepreneurship and resident operated businesses. The overall objective is to support the local economy.

Researchers involved in the project have been looking at community wealth models around the world. Community Wealth initiatives have been implemented successfully in New York in the US, Preston in the UK, and in Parkdale, Toronto here in Canada. These community wealth models are varied in implementation and results, but each community has benefited uniquely.

In Parkdale, where the Parkdale People’s Economy is considered one of the most successful community wealth initiatives, the project comprises of a participatory planning process where participating members of the community have a voice on how community finances are managed. The Parkdale People’s Economy project consist of 4 key initiatives.

A Community land trust model which allows for community ownership of land and democratic control of how the land should be used, such as affordable housing, community gardens and non-profit facilities

A Co-op Cred Program for low-income residents on social assistance to avail an opportunity of food security accessibility tools based on alternate currency models and volunteering.

Community Food Flow for a strengthened local community purchasing power, logistical capacities and relationships of individual organizations for food procurement and distribution

Parkdale Food Network to build a healthy local food system enabling the community to create food connections among various community organizations and members

Similar to Parkdale people’s economy model, the Regent Park Community Wealth initiative seeks to also focus on initiatives that can help drive the community forward and contribute to a local sustainable economy.

To drive the Regent Park Community Wealth feasibility study forward, the project leads (Denise Soueidan-O’Leary and Thomas Linder) have engaged a community driven process to obtain input for the study. To date three community engagement workshops have been held with community members.

If you are interested in learning more about the Regent Park Community Wealth Feasibility Study view my interview with Denise and Thomas at https://youtu.be/mwHCVcQ_oIQ or contact them directly: denise@socialinnovation.ca, thomas.l@socialinnovation.ca



Written by
Dawar Naeem

Journalist
FOCUS Media Arts Centre
 


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