By Alexandra Huffman
The Student Learning Centre (SLC) was supposed to break ground in mid-February, but currently all that stands beside the library on Yonge Street is an empty lot.
The reason for the stall is that the City of Toronto has yet to issue a below-grade permit for the building that would allow excavation for the site.
Julia Hanigsberg, vice-president of administration and finance at Ryerson, said the university has had an application with the city for quite some time.
“As far as we know, we’ve done everything they have asked us to do,” said Hanigsberg. “There are no issues or problems, so we don’t think there is any particular risk that they won’t issue it, but that’s what we are waiting for.”
Ryerson continues to wait on the city, a potential roadblock may delay the SLC’s schedule.
According to an article in the Toronto Star, 23,000 of Toronto’s inside workers may be headed toward a strike on March 25. Ontario’s labour ministry has ruled that a labour lockout is legally allowed to happen.
Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79 have been in talks with the city for 12 weeks, but an agreement has yet to be reached. The main issue stalling the talks is the fact that the city wants to have full control over shift schedules. Workers are worried that this could lead to a loss of hours. Unless an agreement is reached in the next couple of weeks, there could be a labour disruption among many services around the city.
In the event of a strike, no applications for building permits will be processed or issued — exactly the stage that the SLC is at right now.
Hanigsberg expects that the ninestory building, which will contain open student study spaces, is far enough along that the below-grade permit would not be put in jeopardy by the strike.
“We still believe we are going to get that before there is a possibility of a strike,” said Hanigsberg. “We should be getting it very quickly.”
She said that if problems do arise, it would be when work on the building is already underway. The city is supposed to come in to do routine inspections during construction, which could be a challenge if the inspectors are on strike.
In the end, it will come down to whether the strike turns out to be short term or long term. The university is still waiting on a full building permit.
It isn’t immediately necessary as there are still three months of underground work to complete. However there could be a pause if the strike goes on longer than expected.
Rezoning applications, needed to change the zoning of a property, are also at risk, but Hanigsberg says the university is early enough in the new residence construction that it won’t be affected.
Brianna Dologh, first-year occupational health and safety student, said she can’t wait to see the new learning centre because it would be a great resource for students, but she wishes she was kept more upto- date on the project.
“It’s part of our experience at Ryerson,” said Dologh. “It’s unfortunate it hasn’t started. They should tell students why it’s not moving along.”
Nathan Drony, a fourth-year graphic communications management student is disappointed, just as he was with the Maple Leaf Gardens delay.
“I’m not surprised. I won’t be around to enjoy it unfortunately, but I wish it was moving faster. My brother was looking into applying at Ryerson and he could really benefit from a new Student Learning Centre.”
However, even if there is a longer delay, Hanigsberg says the building will be never be abandoned.
“We would work with our construction manager to see what could be accelerated in other areas if there is time to make up,” said Hanigsberg.
The SLC is to be a two-year construction job. Because of the month delay, the goal now is to finish by spring of 2014.