By Raneem Al-Ozzi
The opening of the Ryerson Students’ Union’s (RSU) Wellness Centre has been postponed to September 2017—a year after its intended opening date.
The delay is due to “small operational” issues that need to be taken into consideration before the centre’s launch, according to Shayan Yazdanpanah, the centre’s coordinator.
The centre, which is located in the basement of the Student Campus Centre (SCC), was initially set to open in September 2016. It was postponed until the start of the winter semester because of construction delays and issues with clearing out the Used Book Room, which was previously in the space of the centre.
Now, for a third time, the centre’s opening has been pushed back.
The purpose of the centre is to provide extra direction for students to access mental health resources on and around Ryerson’s campus.
“There are regulations the RSU has to ensure they are adhering to before they can proceed with the launch,” said Yazdanpanah. He said the RSU has to ensure that various steps with construction are approved by the Palin Foundation— the board that makes decisions on behalf of the SCC—and the City of Toronto. Yazdanpanah said it can take time waiting for approval to continue with construction.
Currently the RSU is waiting on accessibility permits and certifications to approve the space. Yazdanpanah said if something as simple as a door is removed or the floor plan changes, health and fire safety rules then change accordingly.
“These enforcements are all taking place so that when the place does open up, we don’t have to continuously keep adding or fixing stuff.”
The Eyeopener previously reported that construction will cost $40,000, which has been allocated from the money that was used to run the Used Book Room. Yazdanpanah said this number was previously intended for programming purposes but was redirected to the renovations.
He said he expects there will be more expenses and this may affect the budget for the centre next year, but it will have to be revisited with the incoming board and executive team.
The centre is also set to house a multi-faith Chaplaincy space, but the delay has caused the RSU to look for a temporary space for the Chaplaincy, according to vice-president equity Tamara Jones. She said a space hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Yasin Dwyer, the Muslim Chaplain at Ryerson said the delay makes it harder to create safe spaces for counselling or mentoring sessions.
“We had great expectations for the winter term, and those expectations revolved around the space we were promised,” he said. “It has been disappointing, but the work will continue regardless. Until the RSU can make the space available we will continue to improvise.”
Yazdanpanah said, because the centre is not something that existed previously, it is not something the students are missing. However he said some students are unaware of the mental health resources available to them on campus and in the community.
Jones said the centre’s opening delay is “disheartening” because mental health support was something she wanted to improve right from the beginning of the school year.
“It’s really unfortunate [the opening date] is being pushed back this far,” she said. “But it’s something I don’t want to rush because I’d rather the centre be safe for students to use it.”
With files from Alanna Rizza