Gardens funding talks heat up

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By Carys Mills

Ryerson’s president expects to hear about the fate of Maple Leaf Gardens in the next few weeks.

“It’s not a dead issue by any means but that still doesn’t mean that anyone has phoned me and told me good news,” said President Sheldon Levy.

After over a month of silence from the federal government surrounding his funding request, Levy has heard discussions have started up.

Levy applied for $20 million in federal funding for the athletic centre project that would see Loblaw Companies Limited, the current owner of the Gardens, share the building with Ryerson.

Discussions about the development of the Gardens were announced on Sept. 16.

The federal cash would make up the final third needed after contributions from the student referendum and a fundraising campaign between Ryerson and Loblaw.

The request is under Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird’s jurisdiction at the federal government.

“We have many applications that are undergoing review right now, including this project,” said Chris Day, Baird’s press secretary, in an email.

“There’s no set timeline for this review. If or when we have something to announce we will.”

Levy has talked to Bob Rae, MP Toronto Centre, and others at the federal government about the request.

Rae said there could be challenges with the application because the project might not fit within the requested two-year time frame and the public and private sphere combination.

“I continue to work away trying to persuade the federal government,” said Rae.

“I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll get to the finish line.”

Even at Ryerson, not everyone is as optimistic as Rae.

“I don’t want to believe it because as soon as I start to believe it I’m going to be bitterly disappointed,” said Ivan Joseph, athletics director.

Joseph said it’s his job to be ready with alternative options for Levy if Ryerson doesn’t secure a place in Maple Leaf Gardens.


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