By News Editor
Sarah Del Giallo
Ryerson University is still interested in the property on the corner of Yonge and Gould, even after a massive blaze engulfed the building on Monday.
“When the building was there, we were interested. When the building fell down, we were interested. And after the building burned down, we remain interested,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy.
Ryerson has been after the Heritage building for some time now. The Dundas subway station platform ends underneath the site making it possible to have a campus entrance to the subway. Since the building is a historical landmark, the city has most of the control over what happens to the plot, regardless of the owner. It will be impossible to know what kind of building will stand on the plot until the city releases its restrictions.
Levy said the main source of frustration around the fire is the possibility that it could have been prevented. After the wall collapse in April, the building stood empty and deteriorating for eight months.
“The fact that there was no urgency, I think is insulting to everyone in our community. And I hope now there’s an urgency,” said Levy. “My hope is we’re not here in eight months talking about the same thing.”
No decisions about the building’s fate can be made until the fire department’s investigation is completed. Captain Mike Strapko said the process is moving slowly. Hoses are still misting the ruins to keep the building’s asbestos from floating around.
“It’s a very complex and meticulous investigation,” said Strapko.
Students are harbouring a lot of confusion about the fire and the community is waiting for answers from the investigation.
“There was nothing there, so how could it catch on fire?” said Mohammed Quraishi, a second-year engineering student.
On Monday, Ken Rutherford, a member of Toronto BIA (Business Improvement Areas), said, “It’s sad to see. Especially when it didn’t have to happen. The building should have been maintained.”
Rutherford said the development will be a lengthy process in the downtown area.
Levy agrees. Even if the university purchases the site, the project completion would take four to five years.
The university in discussions with the TTC, and is waiting to hear if the Ryerson’s budget will allow another major purchase. Nothing yet has gone to the Board of Governors for approval.
“We know all the different issues that we have to deal with, and we are interested in pursuing the building,” Levy said.
Photo: Marta Iwanek