By Tara Deschamps
The East York Community Council agreed on Tuesday to make the closure of Gould Street and portions of Victoria Street near Ryerson University permanent.
Under the adopted motion, the city would retain ownership of the street but Ryerson would be responsible for maintenance, snow removal and litter collection.
Now that the community council has approved the motion, it will be reviewed by City Council on Feb. 7.
“We’re on our way,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy. “This is truly a success story of students that goes back a number of years.”
Ryerson Students Union (RSU) Student Life and Events Vice President Alyssa Williams says that the RSU is optimistic that Gould Street will remain closed to the public.
“I’m hopeful that the decision will be in our favour,” she says. “Should it not go that way, it will be very difficult for students because they are so used to the street being closed.”
One of the RSU’s primary concerns with the street being open to the public is student safety.
“There was an incident where a student was hit by a car,” she says. “Having all these cars on the street isn’t safe.”
Nicole MacKenzie, a second-year early childhood education student, agrees that the street’s closure will make the campus safer, and also notes that it makes travelling around campus easier.
“Having the area closed off is a huge time saver,” said MacKenzie. “Students don’t have to wait for lights to change so it’s easier to get to class [on time].”
Last August, Gould Street was deemed a pedestrian zone as part of a 12-month pilot project proposed by the City of Toronto’s Transportation Services.
Throughout the course of the project, Ryerson used Gould Street as a recreational space, providing outdoor furniture for students to use, as well as a venue to host a variety of campus events.
“The campaign to close the street is six years old, so the RSU has done lots of things to make sure students use it,” Williams said. “We’ve had concerts, our Winter Week of Welcome and our student groups hold events on the street.”
When the project ended in September 2011, the community council decided to block the street until a permanent decision is reached.
A study conducted by Toronto’s city council found that over 98 per cent of people surveyed were in favour of the street’s closure, and city staff recommended that the street become a permanent pedestrian zone.