Pissing off the neighbours

In Communities /

By Rhiannon Russell

The Ryerson community has been buzzing about the Image Arts building (with those “Skittle” lights) and the state-of-the-art athletic facility going in Maple Leaf Gardens, but some of the university’s neighbours are less than thrilled by the noise the construction projects continue to cause.

The large trucks and wide, fenced-off area around the Image Arts building have limited the number of parking spaces for the two churches on Bond Street.

Since Gould Street closed to cars just over a year ago, there are even fewer places for churchgoers to park. “It’s been a big nuisance for us,” says Gregory Karakoulas, president of the board of St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church.

“Parishioners get frustrated and angry and they choose to go to another church. We see less pews being occupied,” he said.

Ryerson issued the church 10 temporary parking permit and,though Karakoulas admits the permits have been helpful, they’re not nearly enough for the weekly congregation of 100 to 250 people. “ten permits is nothing,” he said.

Across the street at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, construction traffic is heavy. A temporary walkway for the workers has been set up along the side of the church. On weekdays, they sit on the church steps and eat thei lunches.”The annoying part is that the church is blocked,” said the church’s pastor Christian Schweter. “Trucks are parking in front of our driveway.”

Noise disrupts the Sunday service as well.

Schweter agrees with Karakoulas that parking is hard to come by. Ryerson didn’t grant his church any permits.

Over at MLG, the westbound lame is closed, as well as the sidewalk on the north side of Carlton. Cyclists riding west on Carlton street are forced to ride in the small space between the construction fence and the streetcar track, with cars whizzing close by.

Tim Doucette, a security guard at Lexington Condominiums on Carlton, has a front row seat to the construction zone.

“Just yesterday, a cyclist got knocked off his bike because he ran into some machinery,” he said.

Another day, the construction team left a generator running and fumes blew into the condo’s lobby for hours. “It was horrible,” he said.

Inspite of this, Doucette says residents don’t seem too annoyed by the construction. If anything bothers them, it’s the noise.

Julia Hanigsberg, vice-president of administration and finance at Ryerson, said she understands the neighbours’ frustration.

“There’s no question that having a major construction project adjacent to you is challenging. There’s noise, there’s dirt, there’s trucks. It’s never fun.”

The repeated delays in the buildings’ openings have been irritating, but if there’s one thing Ryerson’s neighbours agree on, it’s that the hassles of construction are inevitable.

“It’s nothing Ryerson could prevent,” said Schweter of the noise and congestion around the Image Arts site. “That’s just construction.”

Doucette agrees. “I think when it’s all done, [residents] will forget about the pain they went through,” he says with a chuckle.

Hanigsberg is confident once the buildings are open, it will have been worth the inconveniences. “I think it will be a good thing for both ends of the neighbourhood,” she said.

It’s a matter of enduring short-term pain for long-term gain.

“We know it’s going to be over soon,” said Schweter. “We see Ryerson growing around us, which is a great thing.”

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