I’m Sorry

by julia.hanigsberg | January 6th, 2014

I want to apologize to the Ryerson community for the quality of the paint work on the Gould and Victoria Streets pedestrian way. At Ryerson, we pride ourselves on innovation and entrepreneurship, creating an extraordinary student experience and an environment where we put People First. In the Administration & Finance team we hold as one of our key values execution: the ability to get things done. With the resurfacing of Gould and Victoria Streets we fell short on this commitment. I am extremely sorry and my Campus Facilities & Sustainability team is doing everything it can to make things right.

I want you to understand what happened, and what we are doing to rectify the situation.

First, we were inspired by the great work done in New York’s Times Square and wanted to make an exciting splash for the week of welcome when students returned to the University in September. We soon realized we couldn’t complete the design we wanted in time so we decided to do a phase 1 that would be bright and express our blue and gold pride. We did the work in a rush. We put speed ahead of quality of application. That was our first mistake.

Second, when it came time to execute the phase 2 we worked with our designer on a design that was dynamic and incorporated some needed wayfinding. Our testing of the adhesion of the new paint to the existing phase 1 paint was not sufficiently extensive. Testing failed to reveal that the new durable epoxy paint was going to peel off our phase 1 paint. Again, we were rushing because the weather was getting colder and we had a narrow range of temperature when the epoxy could be applied. I required my team complete the work before the temperature dropped. That was my mistake.

Thus, shortly after we completed our “final” effect, it was shortlived. The paint started to peel immediately. Efforts at repair were ineffective and didn’t live up to the quality we wanted and the community deserves. Understandably I heard from many of you how deeply disappointed you were. You are right to be disappointed. However, now with the cold weather there is simply nothing to do until spring.

We are working on a solution. We have assigned a new project manager to make sure quality control is achieved from start to finish including removal of the current product and new surface preparation to achieve a durable result. We will not be spending any additional university funds. We have confidence that our designer, painting contractor and team will stand by their commitment to achieve an excellent quality result.

Stay tuned to my Twitter account @hanigsberg or Soapbox for more updates. I understand people want frequent communications from us so we will do a better job at keeping you informed but don’t expect to see any new activity on site until this spring.

On behalf of myself and the Campus Facilities & Sustainability team, I appreciate your understanding as we get this fixed. I hope you accept my personal apology.

22 Responses to “I’m Sorry”

  1. anonRUstudent says:


    I was wondering how the road will be fixed without further use of the university funds?

    • Anonymous Ryerson Student,

      Typically in the business world when a Contractor’s work fails, they do one of two things: A) Run away or B) Redo the work at their expense. After all, as a Contractor responsible for painting asphalt, one would expect them to have sufficient knowledge of the products they use in their work and the environments those products are best suited for.

      Sometimes an Owner puts out their RFP (request for proposals) and decides to select the lowest cost Bid. This can lead to quality issues as some Contractors are more concerned with earning money than doing a quality job.

      I am not certain that accurately describes how Gould and Victoria came to be painted, but hopefully that helps you to see a situation where Ryerson would not be paying additional sums to correct the work on these two streets.


      Rob Kingston

      • Why shouldn’t Ryerson pay to fix this? By their very own admission they rushed the contractor which was the root cause of the problem.

        I for one probably wont be contributing any more funds next time they ring up alumni seeing how they piss away the contributions.

  2. I think most of us understand what inspired the idea. What I, and many other students, are frustrated with is the poor way this project was handled. The following are key points of frustration; not in order of importance:

    1. Around $200,000 were spent on both phases, at least according to on campus student media. If the purpose was to enhance our experience at Ryerson you should’ve given funding priority to, student teams, grants/awards/scholarships, replacing old equipment, etc. Those are more important to us than the color of the pavement which
    we walk on.

    2. Rushed or not, the result would be the same. Blatantly, it was a very stupid idea to paint asphalt based on the Time Square example, especially since their paint had also peeled! Our roads crack all the time from the cold and you expect paint to survive?!

    3. If the first phase failed, why was the decision made to continue onto second phase and waste more money at a time where Ryerson is undergoing budget cuts?

    It’s truly disappointing how our VP of Finance and Admin and her office spent $200,000 on such a ridiculous project. You have lost our trust and respect, and caused great damage on our image as Ryerson Students. If you were truly sorry, you would have resigned.

    • WhatAJoke says:

      Forget about her resignation. If she truly feels bad, she should pay for these expenses out of her pocket, instead of students and naive donors.

  3. Dearest Julia,

    This half-baked abortion of a project gave me something to talk and laugh about for a few months, so thank you. You can’t put a price on happiness!

    … Well, that’s not completely true in this scenario but you get the point. How much did this cost again? I guess you can just raise tuition to compensate. For your next project why not take a page from Willy Wonka and turn Gould Street into a giant chocolate river! That would be sweet! Get it?!?

    Seriously though, whoever green lit this idea deserves an award. We should all be so lucky to have the same level of awareness and foresight. You are an inspiration.


    Proud Alumni

    Ps. Stop calling me for donations if this is how the money is going to be spent.

  4. Laurie Stewart says:

    While it’s unfortunate the execution didn’t go as well as hoped, I personally think it was a great idea. The colour added vibrancy and contributes to a growing sense of an actual Ryerson campus in the downtown core.

  5. Hi Julia,

    Why did it not occur to you to check with the students first before spending so much of our money to paint the ground? The problem was never the execution, it was the ridiculous waste of a large sum. Even if it was executed perfectly, the vast majority of the student body and, I bet, the vast majority of the faculty body as well would have been vehemently against it. Your office has lost our trust and I will not be donating any money to Ryerson as an alumnus.

  6. Your apology would have meant something to us if you didn’t completely miss the point that the Ryersonians never wanted this to begin with. During the first week when the paint was fresh I didn’t hear one person say “oh look how beautiful this is”, instead there was just anger and frustration at how aesthetically displeasing the paint job was. And once we knew the cost of the paint job we were floored; we lost all trust in you and your office. Tuition is going up; there’s nothing else more important to your students. This was a slap in the face to all of us.

  7. 2nd year student says:

    I know for a fact that a bunch of athletes at ryerson (including me) have been trying to get a rugby team started at ryerson, also, some classrooms are severely lacking in the quality of the equipment. Some desks in Kerr Hall and Victoria building are RIDICULOUSLY old, worn out and entirely too small. No one cares about the colour of the road, because its a ROAD! $200,000 is more than enough moneythan enough money to get our rugby team kickstarted and replenish the desks and chairs in some of the classrooms. Please, PLEASE can you take a moment out of your day and visit some of the classroom that we are stuck in. Its quite sad that a school that could use serious replinishment decides to spend 200 grand on painting roads. If our dorms and classrooms were revived a little bit, then it wouldnt be an issue, but for an Law student with absolutely no background in business or finance, I could have told you that spending 200 grand topaint some road is a TERRIBLE IDEA. You guys litterally wasted our money that should have gone into supporting our library or classrooms. When im an alumni, I know that ill never be donating because we have horrible decision makers handling our money. Universities are built for students so they can get the best possible education for the future, and all the money the school makes should be invested into the STUDENTS, like previously mentioned: the classrooms, library, dorms, and extra curricular sports. As a final note to Julia and the entire financial team, take a look at the Ivy league schools in the US and figure out how theyre spending their money, I dont think Harvard or Yale have ever spent $200,000 to paint roads. MAKE BETTER DECISIONS FOR THE STUDENTS AND THEIR EDUCATIOB. Students need a well-supported school with the necessary tools to help them succeed, not colourful roads.

  8. My startup at the digital media zone turned the same amount of money used to paint the ground into a profitable business.

    In the battle of wits between doers and teachers, you lose this point.

  9. Disgruntled says:

    Don’t apologize for the disaster that has become this project. Apologize for pissing away hundreds of thousands of dollars that this university has collected from cash-strapped students and government alike. This entire project was doomed from the beginning. Hardly any students supported this project; on the contrary, it has been the subject of ridicule on campus for months!
    Any cries from the university about a lack of funding should be ignored, from hereon in. If you have nearly $200,000 to flush down the drain, quite literally, then the school is clearly well cared for.

  10. WHOA! $200K for a paint job? what kind of paint, 20 Karet Gold Paint, and Blue paint Using Actual Sapphires? Unless you painting my degree with paint made from Diamonds, I’m not donating another cent.

    -Disgruntled Alumni-

  11. Poor decisions like this will definitely have me re-think my alumni donations.

    What a waste of funds!

  12. Why have you not resigned for this?

  13. Its appalling that you think an apology would really be enough. In this climate, you’d think universities should value the importance of student’s trusts more than ever, and instead you chose to proceed with a project that clearly no students supported. I for one was never asked if I enjoyed the tuition raises and where the extra funds were ACTUALLY going towards. Infact, the only reason half of the students even knew about the painted road was when they were inconvenienced by the fences put up and the horrible fumes from the paint.

    Telling us that no further funds will be necessary does NOT make up for anything at this point. Why don’t you give us back that money, or better yet, put it back towards what students actually need. For one, we could probably allocate more funds into a better security system seeing as there are so many robberies/assaults happening in the same places on campus where there never seems to be a security guard around to help.

    Next time the school spends money on a “great cause” they need to check what the students think first. We aren’t paying thousands a year and forcing ourselves to work multiple jobs because we want pretty roads.

  14. Read between the peeling lines says:

    You are all missing the point. It is not whether the students wanted this or not. It was for the general beautification of the campus, stop being so self centered.

    Obviously $200,000/ the number of students who attend Ryerson is pennies, this is LUNCH money for Ryerson… an institution who has hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and invest able cash.

    Get over it.

    • But the school *belongs* to the students. I don’t think the students have a problem with the beautification of the campus so much as with the fact that the project was done without their input or consent.

      The school is here to serve the students. Wanting some input on major financial decisions is not self-centred; it’s responsible citizenship. Perhaps if people like yourself respected the students enough to consult with them, this mess could have been avoided

  15. Disappointed says:

    This is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen; I was actually happy when the colour started bleeding away.So much for beautification.
    Instead of repainting it how about power washing it back to regular pavement and using the money to spruce up Kerr Hall and the Vic building. Maybe hire more security?

  16. commonsense says:

    How about using that money towards…hmm I don’t…EDUCATION. Some people don’t even view this school as an actual university now I can see why. Use whatever money on building a world class institution not sidewalk art.

  17. Please do explain how a blog of apology fixes the $200 000? This matter must be taken very seriously and a lawsuit required. This is not a child’s play, you cannot simply waste $200 000 and get away, humans make mistake but not to this extend!

    Mrs. Julia Hanigsberg, like Allen said, please resign, it’s mandatory otherwise pay the $200 000 from your own pocket or face a lawsuit.

  18. Seriously says:

    Life isn’t fair, but I would hardly call people who disagree with this to be selfish. How many students, alumni and families want their hard-earned money to go towards fancy roads? Putting funds aside for enhanced internship/co-op/networking opportunities, security, etc are more reasonable.

    I don’t have anything against artistic representation for the school. There are better long-term investments in developing our reputation.