Ryerson squeezed for space on campus

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By Julie Alnwick

Ryerson doesn’t have enough room for on campus for everyone.

The school’s space deficit is 22 to 25 per cent, according to the standards of the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC).

This means the university could use that much more space to house all faculties.

“We’re focusing on the space deficit and what students right here, right now, need,” said Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s v.p. administration and student affairs.

Several faculties have expressed their need for more room, including engineering, community services and graphic communications managment (GCM).

But Grayson said it’s too early to tell whether the school will expand to grant all faculties’ wishes for real estate.

“That’s always on the books, and we always have big dreams,” Grayson said.

“It’s a competitive process — you’d better be able to make a very good case for what you want,” she said. “There are limited dollars.”

On average, Ontario universities have about 86 per cent of the space they need, while Ryerson has 78.8 per cent, according to 1996 report from the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).

Ryerson’s campus has 23 buildings spread over about 21 acres of land.

THe University of Toronto’s campus is about 687 acres — almost 30 times bigger than Ryerson; U of T has approximately 55,000 students to Ryerson’s 13,000.

That means while U of T has about 80 students per acre, Ryerson has 619.

Ryerson is trying to deal with its space crunch before the 2003 double cohort, when high school students graduating from both OAC and Grade 12 in the new four-year curriculum will be eligible for postsecondary education.

The university has the property but not the cash for high-level expansions, said Manuel Ravinsky, Ryerson’s planner of facilities and capital.

“The difficulty will arise in successfully getting [development] funded,” he said.

Grayson said Ryerson plans to build a building on the parking lot the school owns on the corner of Church and Gould Streets. Ryerson rents the one-acre parking lot to Canada Auto Parks for $300,000 a year, said Janice Winton, executive director of financial services.

Ravinsky said it would cost about $50 million to develop the lot into a building with classrooms and labs.

Ryerson also owns two unoccupied buildings at 297 Victoria St., which housed CJRT, and 112-114 Bond St., former early childhood education (ECE) building.

Ravinsky said it would cost from $5 million to $6 million to renovate each building.

Grayson said the cost to repair the building at 297 Victoria St. isn’t worth it. “It has to be torn down and we have to start again,” she said.

But the school has no fixed goals for either of its properties.

“There’s no particular schedule — it’s on again, off again,” Ravinsky said. “It depends on Ryerson’s priorities with fundraising.”

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