By Ling Hui
A pile of rocks is all that’s left of a Ryerson landmark.
The demolition of the 12 granite slabs at the corner of Victoria and Dundas streets officially signaled the end of Ryerson Community Park, making way for the AMC Metropolis movie theatres.
Since construction started six years ago, the retail and entertainment complex has stretched onto what used to be Ryerson property.
Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse said he never thought of the corner as a park and worries more about the delay of the theatres’ construction.
“My concern is that we don’t have the theatres yet,” Lajeunesse said.
In 1997 Ryerson signed a deal with Pen Equity, the developer of the Metropolis project, and AMC Theatres of Canada that would allow Ryerson to use 12 of the 24 theatres in Metropolis.
The deal was initially meant to provide more lecture space for the university’s growing student population, and subsequently for the double cohort.
At the time, the value of the additional classroom space was estimated at $3.6 million.
Before fences surrounded the north-west corner of Victoria and Dundas, a seven-foot bird perched in the middle of a now-defunct fountain, next to where the granite slabs one stood.
The Bird of Spring, a gift to Ryerson by the Devonian Group of Charitable Foundations in 1978, rested in the circular fountain until it was moved to the Quad, near West Kerr Hall, four years ago.
“The fountain was out of commission at the same time the sculpture was removed because the (Metropolis) project looked like it was moving forward,” said Ryerson campus planning and facilities director Ian Hamilton.
The original $2.5 million Ryerson Community Park plan was meant to connect Ryerson with Allan Gardens by building several mini-parks and multi-use courts for tennis and badminton on campus.
In a 1977 Educational Digest article, then-Ryerson president Walter Pitman praised the park development project saying, “environment is an important factor in the learning process, and I’m optimistic that this parkland development would be a major step in the creation of a more relaxed and inviting environment for the city centre and everyone involved with Ryerson.”
Pitman’s comments came at a time when Victoria Street and the Quad were parking lots for Ryerson faculty and students.
It was also a time when few city planners thought of high-density development in the downtown core.