Regent Park revisited

These pictures represent the passing conversations of two friends who grew up in Regent Park, and visited it in the midst of its revitalisation. They are by no means supposed to be representative of the community as a whole, nor are they an attempt to represent Regent Park in its entirety. They are simply Regent Park revisited. While we took many photos during these visits,  brevity required that we select just a few, and these are the ones we chose.

Vivek Srikanthan is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. Saquib Ahsan is an undergraduate student at York University. Photographs by Vivek Srikanthan.


1- outside house

S: “There’s a certain continuity to how I start my day — I don’t mean routines like waking up and brushing my teeth and shit, as those things are things I can determine and control. By continuity I mean no matter what I do, there are certain aspects of my life that I can’t readily change. Maybe you can say my sense of agency is weak.”

V: “…what?”


647 dundas

V: “My old balcony is right there and I don’t ever remember even going outside to it — it was always covered in bird shit and we only used it as a storage space … I don’t think I remember seeing anybody else outside in their balconies too”

S: “I love how it looks like a stencil and they just spray painted it on. It’s so industrial, rust covering the rails. There’s a certain sense of efficiency to it — these buildings don’t look like they were meant to look like good living spaces, just simply that.”



S: “This is the end result”

V: “Of?”

S: “Not being a product of your environment. There’s also something strange I find with this perception of success. It suggests that getting a degree is the antithesis of what we consider ghettoized culture, as if getting that piece of paper civilizes you”

V: “Hm, I wonder why couldn’t it be a boy?”

S:“Does it matter?”

V: “…No, I guess not”



S: “This could be anywhere else in the world, but it’s not.”



S: “I used to feel self-defeating.”

V: “Why?”

S: “’Cause I was always told if I worked really hard, I’ll be where I deserve to be – now I know that’s not true – equal opportunity isn’t something that’s accessible to all. But all you can really do is work hard and strive for significance.”



V: “I wonder how many times I’ve been in this staircase when I was younger, smoking up or drinking, and looking out from these grates.”

S: “Yeah, and now I work under those two condos every summer. There’s a sense of migration to it…that one has to venture beyond here in order to sustain. It’s clear this f-ing stairwell won’t get us anywhere.”

V: “When I was a kid, before all this revitalization, I couldn’t wait to get out of here, now I could see myself staying”


homeless guy

S: “I want to ask him about his life, but I don’t want to wake him.”

V: “He’s a homeless guy, he’s probably just gonna tell you to fuck off anyways, haha”

S: “Don’t make broad, over-arching assumptions about people based on their economic conditions.”

V: “Gee, now I feel bad.”


end photo

V: “So I guess this is what it’s going to look like.”

S: “Is this the result of gentrification? Modernized housing?”

V: “The future looks bright, I wish I was part of the generation growing up in these houses. I’m actually fucking jealous. These houses look so nice and clean and friendly, it feels like just being around this place feels more … friendlier[sic], safer. Just of the times.”


downtown in the background

S: “It looks like they’re building Regent Park in the image of downtown.”

V: “I find it funny that Moss Park is right there in between us, another neighbourhood dominated by public housing projects. Maybe they’ll be next.”



S: “I don’t like any of the art.”

V: “Why?”

S: “Personally, I feel like it’s too pretentious.”



V: “I know so many people that live in these buildings, and they’re all gonna get displaced once these buildings get torn down.”

S: “To be honest it’s always difficult to acknowledge that fact. They’re gonna have to leave and find new housing while these new condos get built. Where are they gonna go? From one public housing project to another?”



V: “Are these houses abandoned?”

S: “No, people do still live here.”


safe haven

S: “When I first lived in Canada I lived in that white building. A few years later I moved a block down into Regent.  I’d still play basketball in the courts in this area, and just hang these rails, just to stay out of trouble.”

V: “So it was like a safe haven?”

S: “No, not really. It was still bad here, just not as bad as in Regent.”


shoes on a wire

V: “I love the look of this, everything feels so nostalgic. Sun is shining, my old building in the distance while new Regent look just looms over. You can smell spring, can feel sunshinier days. There even a pair of shoes hanging on a wire, you can’t get more nostalgic of your childhood then that”

S: “You know why those shoes are up there?

V: “Somebody threw them?”

S: “No, its supposed to designate a crackhouse/apartment.”



V: “I used to come here and play ball all the time, it was like the only thing to do outside if you weren’t just inside playing video games.”

S: “My friend got shot over in that building in the distance. He used to come here all the time, just hang out, sitting on those benches across from the court just scheming or something.”

V: “I got beat up by some 20 year old guy here once too, in front of all these people playing basketball, I was like 14. I was leaving to go get some juice, ironically at that guy’s family store, and he recently got robbed by a bunch of brown people from another neighbourhood. He thought I was part of them. Another time me and my friends were just playing basketball here, we were like 17, and a shooting happened right here, right in front of us. That whole day too I remember, I was listening to Coldplay — Warning Sign. A lot of shit went down here.”

S: “…You listen to Coldplay?”



V: “The end of the line. I always laugh at the fact we never went to any of the public schools in Regent. You were in Spruce Court in Cabbagetown, and I was in Queen A in Broadview right across these bridges.”

S: “At the end of the day, even though we leave, we always come back though.”



V: “When I first moved here, my mom never wanted me to go to the schools here. Like here Nelson Mandela, they tearing up the school, adding new things, redoing the field, there’s a house right in front of that field. She definitely would have changed her mind if we moved here from the start of now.”

S: “Mmhm”

V: “I never saw anybody once play on this field too before all this construction. Felt like no man’s land, never knew what was gonna go down”