A Social Development Plan reflects a shared vision and key strategies for enhancing the quality of life of a specific geographic area, and focuses on collaboratively planning with community to develop this vision and related strategies.

By working with the community, Social Development Plans create more inclusive communities by:

  • Amplifying the voices of equity-deserving groups and communities
  • Building on and continuing to support existing local community capacity
  • Maximizing social and economic opportunities for residents, businesses, community agencies and other stakeholders
  • Supporting related initiatives that will positively impact the well being of all residents

City staff are currently working with stakeholders in Regent Park, Lawrence Heights and Alexandra Park on Social Development Plans.

In September 2007, City Council PDF adopted the Regent Park Social Development Plan PDF including the seventy-five recommendations that provided a plan of action for managing social change in Regent Park over the course of the community’s shift from a purely social housing neighbourhood, to a mixed-income, mixed-use community. The Social Development Plan laid the foundation for social inclusion and social cohesion—the crucial elements of a healthy and vibrant neighbourhood.

In 2019, after more than a decade of redevelopment and change in Regent Park, a Refreshed Social Development Plan PDF was completed. The process of refreshing the Regent Park Social Development Plan (SDP) was initiated and managed by Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCH) Opens in new window in collaboration with the City of Toronto. The refresh was based directly on the feedback and contributions of Regent Park residents who participated in the 10-Year Lessons Learned process in December 2016, and the residents, organizations, City divisions, and social service agencies who participated in various workshops and meetings in 2017 and 2018.

Based on resident expertise, four major areas of focus were developed to improve the neighbourhood and contribute to social cohesion and social inclusion. The four focus areas are:

  • Community Safety: To create the reality and the positive image that Regent Park is a safe space for everybody
  • Employment and Economic Development: To increase sustainable employment rates and entrepreneurial opportunities for residents
  • Community Building: To create accessible informal and formal spaces, events and groups that bring residents together by removing social and physical barriers; build bridges between market and Toronto Community Housing residents, as well as between residents and agencies/institutions
  • Communication: To make information easily accessible for everyone in the community

The City offers a variety of grants and funding opportunities to help Regent Park residents, service agencies, and grassroots groups implement their social and economic goals. These grants and funding opportunities are available on a time-limited basis to support new and emerging groups, support sector resilience, as well as encourage resident engagement and leadership development.

The Refreshed Social Development Plan PDF provides a guide to building a successful, cohesive, and inclusive community. It is a living document for the Regent Park community and is intended to adapt to the changing needs of current and future residents.

The Lawrence Heights Social Development Plan was created in 2012. It was developed through more than three years of consultations and engagement with local stakeholders, working collaboratively to identify the characteristics that make the community unique. Six Action Priorities were identified to help the community realize the goals of the Lawrence Heights Social Development Plan. These came directly from community members and reflect their strengths and vision for the future of their neighbourhood.
The Social Development Plan was created to lay the foundation for a collaborative, cooperative and inclusive community, and guide us through all of the phases of the revitalization process. It is a road map for the neighborhood’s revitalized future, supporting the shift from a pure social housing neighbourhood to a mixed-income, mixed-use community. It is also a living document for the community, and is intended to adapt to the changing needs of Lawrence Heights and its current and future residents.

These principles were developed in the Social Development Plan to help focus the goals of building a more collaborative and socially-inclusive Lawrence Heights—where residents live, work, play and connect to each other:

  • A healthy and welcoming community that is supportive to all residents, with a sustainable environment and thriving economy
  • Equal opportunities to benefit from community assets and services, free from discrimination and oppression
  • Respect for all community members by community members
  • Empowerment so that all members are able to participate in community decision making

2019 Update

In spring 2019, a Social Development Plan Working Group was formed in partnership with the Lawrence Heights Inter-Organizational Network (LHION). The residents and agencies co-created a process for information gathering to provide a progress report and action plan. In Summer/Fall 2019, more than 400 residents and services partners contributed through:

  • Community Conversations: ‘One Community, One Voice’ sessions
  • One-on-One Interviews: Conversations with residents and agencies
  • Past Community Documents: Integration of past priority setting and research documents
  • Door-to-Door Outreach: Conversations with Lawrence Heights residents alongside Toronto Community Housing Corporation updates
  • Digital Survey: Online opportunities to participate and provide feedback in actions and priorities
  • Community Events: Conversations with residents at local events
  • Validation & Priority Setting Sessions: A review of the information gathered, recommend revisions, and identify immediate actions

Through this process, the following action plan priority themes were identified:

  • Social Cohesion: create intentional moments to foster social connection, relationship building and contact between market, rental and Toronto Community Housing Corporation residents within the Lawrence Heights, Neptune and Lotherton neighbourhoods—and among them
  • Community Identity: showcase community milestones and resident talent to promote a positive neighbourhood identity and recognize both neighbourhood strengths and challenges
  • History Telling: empower and encourage residents to write, record, and celebrate their community history
  • Intergenerational Links: develop intergenerational initiatives to share knowledge and experience, and build relationships between older adults and younger generations
  • Resident Leaders: increase resident-to-resident engagement, capacity building training, and advocacy opportunities within agencies and across communities
  • Space Making: create additional informal spaces for residents to gather—indoors and outdoors; and dedicate a multi-faith and multicultural centre for residents to celebrate, teach, and practice their faiths and cultures

Find out how you might get involved with the Lawrence Heights Revitalization.

Together with Toronto Community Housing, residents, neighbours and development partners, City of Toronto staff support a social development plan in Alexandra Park. Since 2009, stakeholders have been working to revitalize Alexandra Park with new housing and amenities that connect this vibrant downtown community with surrounding neighbourhoods.

Currently, City staff are engaged in improving surrounding park space which propose to include upgraded pathways, lighting, seating/gathering areas and a new pickleball court. Learn more about improvements to Alexandra Park.