Regina reacts to new Maclean’s article

Click to play video: 'Regina reacts to ‘Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood’ 10 years later' Regina reacts to ‘Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood’ 10 years later
WATCH ABOVE: In 2007, a dark shadow was cast upon Regina and specifically North Central. In an article, Maclean’s Magazine had dubbed it “Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood” citing high rates of crime and violence as the most dangerous in the country. Now, 10 years later, another article looks at if anything’s changed. Christa Dao reports – Jan 25, 2017

In a new Maclean’s Magazine article titled “Ten years later, we ask again: What’s wrong in Regina” – senior correspondent Jonathon Gatehouse writes about the “nasty but entirely justified label” of calling North Central “Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood.”

Gatehouse looks back a decade to when he toured North Central, seeing dilapidated homes stained with blood or when residents told him they were afraid to leave because of gangs and violence.

He said reactions to the articles were mixed but it has been more positive.

“I heard a lot of negative things about it from community leaders but people who lived in North Central were by and large supportive of what I’d written,” Gatehouse said.

“This time around, I’m hearing mostly positive things from people that live in North Central say, ‘this is the kind of attention that the problems need, this is what we’re hoping is going to happen.’”

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Street Culture Kidz Project CEO Kim Sutherland works with at-risk youth in North Central. He said the article only shows a snapshot of the vulnerable community and said it doesn’t tell the entire story.

“It’s just difficult that someone parachutes into our community for a short time and makes wide sweeping statements,” Sutherland said.

While Sutherland doesn’t dispute the facts in the article, he said a timeline of 10 years isn’t enough.

READ MORE: Crime up in Regina

“That’s not a 10-year plan, it’s a generation plan. As it took generations to get here, it’s going to take generations to get out,” Sutherland said.

However, Gatehouse explained he hadn’t planned on writing the 10 year piece. It was only when local media had marked the anniversary of the Maclean’s story that he decided to pen the article.

“I only wrote it because the Leader Post was marking the anniversary. That’s always been the strange thing about this story. Local media have kept writing about it and writing about the mean things Maclean’s had said about North Central,” Gatehouse said.

“This notion that what people took away from this story about an impoverished high crime neighbourhood in an otherwise peaceful neighbourhood and prosperous city was this idea that Maclean’s had insulted Regina’s civic pride.”

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The article also cites statistics by the Leader Post, how North Central had seen increasing gun crime as well as meth use.

Gatehouse said the article wasn’t mean-spirited, rather it focused on the facts.

Regina Police Chief Evan Bray doesn’t dispute the facts either. He said it’s another wake-up call for the city and said they are looking at ways to address the problems in that area.

“We have to remain optimistic. We have to remain proud of our city and committed to making it better. We can’t deny the fact that there are some challenges,” Bray said.

Bray said since the first Maclean’s article came out, there has been real effort to improve the community.

“We’re getting a couple of new schools built in the area, some improvements in homes,” Bray said.

“I’m not offended by the article, yeah fair enough, we have some work to do but let’s pause and also recognize that there’s some phenomenal things that are happening in North Central.”

READ MORE: Global News follows White Pony Lodge on Regina community patrol

One of the most visible changes include a North Central patrol group, White Pony Lodge. The group formed in 2016, aimed to curb violence in the neighbourhood

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“We’ve picked up hundreds of needles in one lot… so that is indeed a success,” program coordinator Beatrice Wallace said.

Wallace said she chooses to focus on the more positive notes of the story and said it highlights a problem that’s still of concern.

“My reaction was I’m glad that it was in the news again because when it was 10 years ago, there were changes that were made in North Central. Awareness is still there,” she said.

Gatehouse said he hopes this time, his article will spark conversation but about the right things.

“Stop marking the anniversary of the time that I was mean to Regina, and maybe pay attention to your fellow citizens, fellow residents who are living in desperate circumstances and could use your help,” Gatehouse said.

Mayor Michael Fougere also responded saying he was disappointed in Gatehouse’s approach.

“The author didn’t come back to the city. He got on Google and got some numbers. If you want to write a report about a characterization of our city and not visit the city 10 years later, I think there’s a gap in knowledge there,” he said.

“Fairly condescending in the approach that the former mayor and the current mayor don’t have knowledge… It was a visceral comment.”

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