Ryerson campus revitalization officially underway

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By Valerie Dittrich

Starting March 27, Ryerson University students can expect travel delays and disruptions getting around campus during the spring and summer months while construction is underway.

As part of the Campus Core Revitalization Project—a partnership between the City of Toronto and Ryerson University—Gould and Victoria streets will mostly be fenced off during the construction process.

In a notice emailed to staff and students on March 26, the university said there will be “key areas to allow pedestrian access until all fencing is in place and construction crews are ready to begin.”

All the areas affected by the project will be fenced off. This includes Gould and Victoria Streets along with parts of O’Keefe Lane and the Nelson Mandela Walk that stretches to Gerrard Street. The project is slated to be finished by late 2019.

The project is designed to increase accessibility on campus with a pedestrian-first mindset, adding outdoor spaces, better infrastructure and safety of community members, according to Ryerson’s website.

“You cannot do construction on this scale without disrupting the way people get around,” said Nic de Salaberry, the director of planning and development for Ryerson’s Facilities Management and Development (FMD). “We’ll be continuously monitoring [the construction areas] to make sure that we haven’t created bottlenecks or problems for people.”

De Salaberry said the university will add additional signage to the construction site to help campus community members and visitors.

He said the university will implement “wayfinding signage” during construction to help students and visitors through campus to let them know what direction they are travelling in or what building they are near.

The project’s plan is to make Gould and Victoria Streets completely pedestrian. It will do this by “table-topping” the roadways so it becomes more of a plaza, eliminating curbs and corners. It promotes a pedestrian-friendly space by removing vehicles from the campus core, according to Julie Mycan, the campus revitalization project manager.

In terms of the community members who find refuge in and around Ryerson’s campus, de Salaberry said the revitalization isn’t going to “solve problems for them.” He added it “isn’t designed to make their lives any more difficult” and isn’t designed to “keep people out or in.”

The Eye previously reported that the installation of the planters in front of the Tim Hortons of Victoria street in March 2017 caused a Ryerson community member who used the space for shelter to relocate.

“They’re not meant to be places where people live,” said de Salaberry. “We designed it as a public place for the public to converge, and by the public I mean the broad public. I’d like to think that people who don’t have a fixed address who are downtown will find that they enjoy the space as well.”

“Campuses aren’t only inside, they’re outside too,” said Mycan. “When we say pedestrian first, it’s not just the building, it’s what happens inside the building, similarly with what happens on campus. This venture is going to allow us to have more of those opportunities we don’t have the space or the proper infrastructure for.”

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam committed $7 million to the project, The Eye previously reported.

Mycan said every penny from the funding will be used. Along with raising the roadways, the project will see improvements to the basic infrastructure beneath the walkways, improving the telecommunications between building and beautifying the space with outdoor greenery and furniture.

De Salaberry said it will also include adding pedestrian-level lights and performance lights for concerts and special events.

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