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Dundas station emerges as the ideal candidate for a name change Add to ...

Dundas station – a busy downtown stop in need of a major facelift – will be the test case for plans by the Toronto Transit Commission to sell naming rights, and the head of nearby Ryerson University says he is keen to talk.

TTC chair Karen Stintz said the transit authority wants to use renovations at Dundas as a pilot project that can be copied at other stations in the cash-strapped system.

“Dundas station is the station we want to invest in and redesign,” she told The Globe and Mail. “We are working to see what opportunities we can create to reinvest in that station and what kind of potential model we can build.”

Ms. Stintz singled out Ryerson University as a potential partner for the project. The school’s president, Sheldon Levy, said his campus would benefit from a station upgrade and might be willing to raise funds or partner with the private sector to make that happen.

“Whether or not it’s called Dundas-Ryerson, I don’t know, but we have a shared interest in seeing that site cleaned up and modernized,” he said. “If we could negotiate something and have our name on it, we would not be beyond looking to fundraise to make that happen.”

The university, he said, is especially interested in creating a new access point at the north end of the platform. The access, on the south side of Gould Street at Yonge, a vacant lot since a fire destroyed the former Empress Hotel, would be across the street from Ryerson’s new student learning centre, set to open in three years.

The university has not sat down with the TTC to discuss a deal or put a dollar figure on what it would cost to name a station, he said.

Ms. Stintz said the commission’s work on the controversial plan is in the early stages, but she expects it will move forward once a new advertising contract is in place.

Mention of the plan by Councillor Doug Ford, the brother and close adviser to the mayor, drew protests last month. But partnering with a university – rather than the fast-food outlet that the councillor used as an example – might quiet some critics.

Ms. Stintz stressed that any new name likely would not replace the existing street names of stations, because that might create difficulties for people navigating the system.

The new ad contract – a 12-year deal expected to generate at least $324-million for the TTC – lists naming rights for stations and subway lines as possible new initiatives. The agreement is set to be approved at a meeting Wednesday of transit commissioners.

Upgrades to the Dundas station will likely cost in the tens of millions of dollars, Ms. Stintz estimated, but added the scope of the renovation work could be scaled to match the dollars raised.

As well as new entrances, she said the TTC is looking at “how the station works,” including traffic flow, the placement of kiosks and platform design. In addition to the university, she said the TTC plans to talk to local businesses about financial support for the upgrade.

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