It seems a deal with the city is not a deal, if you can come up with a few lame excuses for wiggling out of it.
The city is recommending cancellation of an agreement made with Ryerson University in 2008 to avoid a messy fight over a threatened heritage designation of the landmark Sam the Record Man
sign that was a beacon for the Yonge St. store.
Ryerson had purchased the Sam’s property for expansion, but there was a clamour to save the sign. It stopped after the school agreed to repair the sign and re-erect it above its new Student Learning Centre, at the location of the old Sam’s store on Yonge, or around the corner, on Gould St.
Five years later, the sign is still in storage and Ryerson has gone to the city with a song and dance about why it shouldn’t be held to the deal.
The estimated $250,000 cost is too much; mercury will spill onto the sidewalk if any lights are broken, leading to an environmental catastrophe; it’ll use too much power; there aren’t enough “qualified neon sign professionals” around these days.
I expect better excuses from my 13-year-old son, but the city went for it, hook, line and sinker. The Ryerson honchos must be laughing over how easily they hornswoggled city hall.
The school had to be aware of the problems that it now says are deal-breakers when it agreed to save the sign; it’s hard not to conclude that it said whatever was necessary at the time to obtain development approvals, but never intended to honour an agreement, if it could find a way out.
And what about precedent? Ryerson is not just a school but a developer here. If it isn’t held to the terms of its agreement, other developers will surely raise it is an example of why they deserve similar relief.
Personally, I don’t care if the sign is put up, even though I studied at Ryerson in the early 80s and regarded Sam’s as the place to go for eight-track tapes. But it signed a deal that was not unreasonable and should be made to keep it.
Cancelling it must still be approved by city council. We’ll see if the councillors are any smarter than the staffers recommending that Ryerson be let off the hook.