By Abigale Subdhan
One of Ryerson’s top administrators is also the board chair of an association of downtown businesses responsible for Ryerson campus.
Julia Lewis, director of Ryerson’s centre of environmental health, safety and security management (CEHSSM), is also the board chair of the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Association (BIA) is a non-profit advocacy group that works with downtown businesses.
“I had the Ryerson reputation so it was simple [to be elected],” she said.Lewis said she uses her professional background to provide governance and oversight to the organization to ensure it moves forward.
Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said he doesn’t know why Lewis in particular was elected to the position, but the university was asked to nominate someone who would have an understanding of the university.
“ I don’t know what particular expertise she might have over someone else, I don’t know what particular expertise the BIA was looking for,” he said. Downtown Yonge is responsible for the land that Ryerson occupies, but Lewis said she doesn’t think this constitutes a conflict-of-interest because she’s a volunteer and the organization focuses on “strategic initiatives” instead of certain businesses.
She said the organization is funded by the tax-base of downtown and doesn’t own Ryerson land, so they still have to consult the university before using it for events.
Levy said he is sure that the BIA has conflict-of-interest guidelines that every employee has to follow.
“You can imagine with the BIA in particular, that they would have [guidelines] because every member there has reason to have economic interest in the success of the BIA,” he said.
James Robinson, executive director of Downtown Yonge, said he is grateful for the objectivity and open-mindedness that Lewis maintains with the organization.
“She does not push a Ryerson agenda but [instead] does a great job of lining members of the community around a common cause,” he said.
Photo by: Yeugenia Kleiner