Mayor-elect John Tory spoke at the Sears Atrium.

Photo: Rob Foreman

Mayor begins building legacy with Rye

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By Alex Downham


Mayor-elect John Tory is working with Ryerson’s newly launched City Building Institute to address growth and equity issues in Toronto.

“If I didn’t become mayor, I’d still support this institute,” Tory said Nov. 10 at Ryerson’s Sears Atrium inside the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre.”This will build a stronger, respected, fairer city.”

The Ryerson City Building Institute, a “non-partisan centre,” is run by urban planning experts and plans to address Toronto’s “critical urban problems.”

There are five themes driving the institute’s plans, focusing on “integrated land use” and “inclusive communities.” Tory said these two goals, among others, “will define Toronto as a great city or what might have been.” He said despite the city’s support of “equality in opportunity,” students struggle to survive due to a lack of employment opportunities.

“Students go to great schools like Ryerson expecting they’ll be fine, but people are being left behind,” Tory said. “Not deliberately, but some citizens can’t find their way through the system.”

According to Civic Action, 83,000 citizens aged 15 to 24 are not in education, employment or training.

Tory blames the lack of progress on these issues to low “political will.” City Building Institute’s executive board wants to solve urban issues by consulting Ryerson President Sheldon Levy.

“This initiative will build on Sheldon’s legacy,” said Usha George, dean of Ryerson’s Community Services faculty and executive board member of the City Building Institute.

Since 2005, Levy has helped Ryerson’s growth run rampant.

He gained a reputation as a “city builder” by expanding Ryerson’s campus throughout the downtown core, including the 2012 renovation of Maple Leaf Gardens, the 2006 construction of the Ted Rogers School of Management and the soon-to-be completed Student Learning Centre.

“Ryerson’s developed this reputation as a city builder because it’s in our DNA,” Levy said. “We don’t just talk about city building — we walk it.”

Levy was appointed to Tory’s 20-person advisory council Oct. 28 because of his city-building credentials.

Ryerson politics and public administration professor Bryan Evans said Levy’s position could make Ryerson the spark for Toronto’s economic growth.

“It likely is an indicator that Tory sees the development of Ryerson going into the future as being organically linked to whatever ideas and future plans he may have for the transformation of downtown Toronto,” Evans said.

Tory said Toronto needs to “come together” before moving forward, saying the city “deserves a leader that brings it together.”

Upon election victory, Tory vowed to end the “division that has paralyzed city hall the last few years” through discussion with politicians like fellow mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and David Soknacki.

Anne Golden, co-chair of the Ryerson City Building Institute, said Tory’s demand for dialogue makes him a prime candidate for spurring growth in Toronto.

“The one central theme of Tory’s campaign insisted Toronto must not swing left or right, but forward,” Golden said.

Tory said he’s excited to improve Toronto’s urban issues while promoting the city’s positive image.

“We would admit that there’s work to do here,” Tory said. “But I can’t wait to go anywhere and sell the benefits of investing and bringing jobs to this great city.”


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