In the past decade, Ryerson has invested heavily in enhancements to its facilities and public realm that have improved campus quality of life, and contributed to revitalization of the Downtown Yonge the neighbourhood overall. Stroll along Gould Street and you’ll see this theme in action: students, staff, and community members enjoying Toronto’s first pedestrianized street, enlivening the campus across all seasons.
To explore the evolution of Ryerson’s role as a city building university, and to highlight future opportunities – including a redesigned Yonge Street – Ryerson CBI led a walking tour on August 14 for international participants in the Ryerson-hosted WC2 Toronto 2018 Symposium, including students and faculty from Berlin, New York City, Mexico City, Melbourne, St. Petersberg and São Paulo.
Leading the walk were CBI Project Manager Claire Nelischer and Ryerson School of Urban and Regional Planning Professor Dr. Zhixi Zhuang. The route weaved through Ryerson’s campus and the surrounding community to explore the challenges and opportunities facing Ryerson’s campus and community public realm, and the potential of a pedestrian-priority redesign for Downtown Yonge Street.
If you’ve been following this blog closely, you’ll know that the Ryerson City Building Institute supports proposals to rebalance the street with a pedestrian-priority redesign. With 175,000 residents, 580,000 workers, and 45,000 Ryerson community members within a 10-minute walk of Downtown Yonge Street, this main street is of incredible importance to the neighbourhood. At present, pedestrians represent 72% of traffic at surface level, and yet ⅔ of the roadway space is devoted to cars.
This walk was an extension of CBI’s ongoing efforts around the future of Downtown Yonge Street and the Ryerson campus, which includes our 2016 Yonge Love Meet-Up event, and a forthcoming research report by Dr. Zhuang on the impacts of street redesigns on university campuses and the benefits for Ryerson of a better Downtown Yonge.
Urban universities like those in the WC2 network are increasingly being called upon as key players in the development of healthy, livable, equitable cities. For the walk participants, catching a glimpse of the unique challenges and opportunities facing Ryerson with respect to its campus and community public realm allowed for interesting exchange on the role of universities in elevating urban experiences for all.