Ryerson desperate for more beds

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By Travis Myers

While new students are finding their way around campus and into classrooms, it is still unclear whether they will be finding their way into Ryerson residences in the near future.

Ryerson has been striving to find a solution to its residence shortage for much of the summer.

The university made two formal requests within five months, which called upon private investors and development companies to create new off-campus residence for students.

“We’re so short on residence space and have been just not successful in moving this agenda forward,” Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said.

“I think this year we’re going to really do our very, very best to see if there is some way we can move on the residence agenda because we’re so short.”

Student Housing Services’ Chad Nuttall confirmed that Pitman, the O’Keefe House and the International Living and Learning Centre only offer 852 residence spaces for an ever-increasing student population. That means that only about three per cent of Ryerson’s student population is housed in residence, compared to 13 per cent of U of T’s student body.

Non-affiliated residences like the Neill- Wycik student housing co-operative are also an option but they do not guarantee the quality and accountability that so many first-year students and their parents seek.

Ryerson president Sheldon Levy spoke out in April when the first formal request was made to developers, telling the Toronto Star that he aimed for new residences that can house up to 3,000 more students.

Ryerson’s formal request sought “qualified and experienced parties” interested in “designing, building, financing and operating” an off-campus residence close to the university.

“That’s not like buying property,” Levy said. “They’re self-funded so it’s sort of like ‘Can you develop a business case that makes them self standing?’”

Officials would neither confirm nor deny if developers have expressed any interest in providing Ryerson with new residence spaces since the request was filed in April.

They also refused to comment on why Ryerson changed the wording of its request in the second notice filed in August, which specified that the university is looking to enter “some form of agreement” with investors regarding the “development and/or ongoing operation” of possible residences.

At this time it is unknown if any deals have been brokered for new residences close to campus, but Ryerson’s 25,000 member student body can expect developments in the future.

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