Documentation of a Demolition.
Reimagining an Urban Community.
Regent Park, Toronto
The ongoing redevelopment of the Regent Park neighborhood in downtown Toronto plays like a narrative that could happen anywhere. We build, demolish, and build again. Newer and greener buildings go up, that architects design and urban planners plan, while the media comment. There are blog posts, Flickr pages, YouTube videos, and NFB documentaries like www.nfb.ca/film/farewell_oak_street. But the story of Regent Park isn’t just any narrative of the reimagining of an urban centre; it is Toronto.
The Bruce Report, authored by Lieutenant-Governor Herbert A. Bruce in 1934, forcefully made the case for social housing based on “slum clearance.” The architect J.E. Hoare designed the first Regent Park, bulldozing the Toronto slums in the 1950s. The project had noble intentions, but by the mid to late 1960s, these modernist buildings fell into disrepair.
I am drawn to the neighborhood to record the visual meanings and memory as history repeats itself, and these buildings are torn down. Large towers and apartment units turn to empty lots through my viewfinder while people come to bid farewell to their homes of 25 years and to collect souvenirs of a lifetime in these buildings.
My camera records, as I trace the bulldozer from place to empty space.
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