By Rebecca Tucker
After weeks of discussion, Ryerson will not expand its campus beyond the safety of its established home in Toronto’s downtown core.
Last month, Waterfront Toronto announced that an academic institution would indeed be taking over an undeveloped plot of land beside the Redpath Sugar refinery.
But, it won’t be Ryerson. “We had a number of discussions with the people at the Waterfront, and I think at the end of it, we concluded that there is opportunity to develop the campus in the downtown area,” said university President Sheldon Levy, who most recently bought the old Future Shop property on Yonge Street.
“In other words, where we are, and [in an area] that is not disconnected from us.”
Levy showed considerable enthusiasm about the project over the summer, sharing his plans with Maclean’s magazine for a waterfront campus with “life and excitement,” complete with residences, sports fields and cafés.
The university had been in talks with Waterfront Toronto (formerly the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation) last summer to negotiate Ryerson’s acquisition of the area on Queen’s Quay between Jarvis and Sherbourne streets for the possible second campus.
Waterfront Toronto spokesperson Marisa Piattelli told the National Post last month that the area Ryerson was hoping to acquire has been secured by a school and declined to say which, but did confirm that she had also had discussions with the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), and the nearby George Brown College.
“We are in discussions with an academic institution,” she told the Post, “which will end in a good deal for all.”
But Peter Caldwell, VP Administration at OCAD, said his school is not interested in the property. “It’s not OCAD,” he said. “We don’t have any specific plans to do something at the waterfront.”
The designs for the new building were produced by Montreal firm Daoust Lestage, who was unavailable for comment. There has been talk of Ryerson’s population increasing by 10,000 students in the next four to five years.
But Levy has determined that it’s best to keep development close to home. He is concentrating more closely on expropriating the now-defunct Sam the Record Man building and on Ryerson’s Master Plan, which includes the revitalization of the university’s main thoroughfare, Gould Street.
“If we were to go [to the waterfront], it might be for strategic reason and might be part of a joint venture,” he says.
“But as far as a [second] campus, I don’t think there is any interest for a suburban or another downtown campus, and we’re not planning that. Not at the moment.”