Brent Raymond speaks at the open house. Photo: Jake Scott

Reenvisioning Rye’s outdoor spaces

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By Victoria Shariati

Ryerson’s Draft Public Realm Plan was unveiled on Monday at an open house in the Student Learning Centre.

The plan outlines different ways to improve the safety, accessibility, and quality of Ryerson’s campus. It is an offshoot of the Master Plan, which was proposed by Sheldon Levy in 2006 as a way to revitalize the school.

Brent Raymond, a landscape architect and urban designer, directed the project. He said he wants to make the campus more “pedestrian-friendly,” and to increase greenery where possible.

Details of the proposal include removing the curbs on Gould Street in order to take it from a street to an open space. The pedestrian crossing at Church and Gould streets will also be shortened by two lanes.

There will be increased outdoor lighting, and public art will be displayed throughout the campus. For cyclists, a “dismount zone” may be enforced during peak hours, which are between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“Ryerson is a very urban campus,” said Raymond. “We want to create a stronger image, a positive image, of it.”

While the Public Realm Plan is a long-term project, some aspects of it are likely to materialize in approximately four years. Students can expect to see additional cycling facilities and increased signage.

An online survey was launched for students to study the proposal and provide feedback. Over 1,000 people have taken the survey and displayed “overwhelming support” for the Gould Street design.

“People want to have a great campus,” said Raymond. “If there’s one thing that students remember about their school, it’s largely the outdoor spaces.”

Michael Forbes, from Ryerson’s office of Public Affairs, said that funding wouldn’t be decided until the project is finalized. However, it is unlikely that student fees will be raised, as “the public realm really has nothing to do with tuition.”

Sarah Jeannette, a first year arts and contemporary studies student, wants to see the campus become more accessible. She also wants to see more greenery.

“I haven’t really been here that long, but from what I understand, they want to make it more eco-friendly. So more trees would make sense,” she said.

After some revisions are made, the plan will be submitted to the Board of Directors, who will decide on it in March. The online survey closes at the end of this month.

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