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War on pedestrians

In Editorial /

During my 2007 Orientation Week, the theme was “your CITY is your CAMPUS.”

Well, right now our city is dicking around with that concept.

The gravy train has stopped right where it hits students the hardest: our transit options, our bike lanes, our pedestrian spaces and, if that orientation motto is to be believed, our campus.

In July the Jarvis bike lanes were killed. Last week Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong decided it’s time to review the scramble light at the Yonge and Dundas intersection that gives pedestrians, many of them Ryerson students, 28 glorious seconds to dash from one corner to the other. And now it has been revealed that in order for the TTC to reduce their budget, they’re proposing fare hikes and longer wait times between vehicles.

These things matter to you, whether you’re aware of that yet or not. Unless you’re one of a minority of Ryerson students who owns a car and can actually afford to keep it gassed up, these Council happenings are going to impact you and how you navigate Ryerson’s campus.

A certain segment of City Council has declared there is a war on the car and they’re responding with what is becoming, intentionally or not, a war on students. And much like the war on Christmas, it’s all a pile of bullshit concocted by a privileged minority.

But there is a glimmer of hope.

On Monday, City Council unanimously decided to extend the Gould Street pilot project for another year, keeping it as pedestrian space. Closing Gould Street is one of the best things that’s been done for Ryerson.

Don’t be distracted by Ryerson’s recent flashy real estate ventures or Lite Brite renos. Closing Gould Street turned Ryerson into an actual campus instead of a tiny cluster of buildings hidden in the downtown squeeze. It’s given us outdoor student space, a place for events like the Tuesday farmers’ market or simply a safe way to get across the street.

So that’s one battle won for us carless, young, city dweller scum. But we’re still being set up to lose the “war.”

An OSAP and bartending tips-based lifestyle is not gravy. Your commute at 7 a.m. from the far reaches of suburbia is not gravy. Your position as a Ryerson student to treat the city at large as our campus is not gravy.

There are some 100,000 plus post-secondary students in downtown Toronto and thousands more still within City Council’s grasp.

But are you doing anything? It’s easy to hate Rob Ford. It’s easy to joke about gravy trains. And it’s easy to bitch about TTC changes then forget a month later.

Paying attention and understanding the various ways your city is ignoring your segment of the population isn’t quite as simple. And that makes it really easy for Council to keep ignoring us.

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