By Jacob Dubé
While construction workers were putting fences all across Gould Street and turning Ryerson into one big petting zoo (spoiler: we’re all the goats), another fence was going up not that far away.
Next to the Toronto Public Health building on Victoria Street, also called The Works—a city-owned building which houses one of Toronto’s safe injection sites—is another huge fence. At first, it seems to be for some sort of construction project, but it’s really there to separate the people who frequent the site from the rest of Ryerson.
The fence lines the green area in front of the Victoria building and is pretty obviously trying to keep people off the soil, forcing them onto the sidewalk or street.
Anybody who was on campus last semester will remember the planters installed by the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA) specifically to remove one man from the location in front of the Tim Hortons where he’s stayed for almost 10 years. A spokesperson for the BIA said it was in an effort to “help” him, but he’s still in the area and holding the Tims door open for students—he was just forced to move to a worse location.
The difference with this fence is that no one is even trying to pretend it’s for anybody’s good. It’s imposing and creates a very uncomfortable feeling when you’re anywhere near. In other words, it’s doing exactly what it set out to do.
Especially considering Ryerson’s plans to beautify Gould Street in the coming years, it’s baffling that the school and the city would make an effort to create a more hostile environment for the community. Sure, the campus might look a little aesthetically better in the future, but who’s going to be around to enjoy it?