Rebuilt Libraries on the Books
Ford, Jenny, Kives, Bartley, Winnipeg Free Press
Plan calls for 14,000-square-foot buildings to replace eight aging facilities
The city plans to amalgamate two southeast Winnipeg libraries and also replace its smallest branch in 2013 as part of a $21-million plan to replace eight aging facilities over the next nine years.
A library redevelopment strategy unveiled by Mayor Sam Katz on Wednesday will see the city build seven new structures "based on an initial generic library design" that calls for about 14,000 square feet of space, approximately 40 parking stalls and a single-floor plan that ensures universal access for all library users.
The eight libraries to be replaced are in dire need of repair, suffer from accessibility issues and either don't have enough parking or are in inconvenient locations, says a report to be considered by council's protection and community services committee on Thursday. Most of the aging libraries are also cramped and lack both modern programming spaces and library technology.
The first phase of the redevelopment plan calls for the St. Vital and Windsor Park libraries to close and be replaced by a single new $5.8-million facility at an as-yet-undisclosed location, with construction slated to begin in 2013.
Next year will also see the replacement of the Charleswood Library -- Winnipeg's smallest branch, at 4,900 square feet -- at a cost of $958,000. The city will then replace the Transcona, River Heights, Westwood, St. James-Assiniboia and West Kildonan libraries between 2014 and 2010.
All eight libraries slated for replacement need to be more accessible, Katz said.
"They aren't all the same issues. In (Charleswood), you've got a library that's almost 50 years old and 4,400 square feet, where the template we're looking at is just over 14,000 square feet," the mayor said. "In this one, it's not only renewing aging infrastructure, but actually building something that will appropriately serve the community."
The city is scouting locations for the new amalgamated St. Vital-Windsor Park branch, he added. Council may decide on a location in the fall, said Rick Walker, Winnipeg's library services manager.
The redevelopment plan does not call for any new libraries, not even in new areas such as Sage Creek or Waverley West.
The report to council also notes the redevelopment plan will not lead to increased library staffing or hours, although the new amalgamated southeast-Winnipeg branch will have longer hours than the branches it will replace.
In an attempt to keep costs down, the city will consider leasing the buildings instead of building to own. A decision about ownership will be made on a branch-by-branch basis.
"We have to look at other options. To build and recreate (the Charleswood) Library would push $10 million probably, so you could only afford to do one or two for the same money we're doing many more," said community services chairwoman Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood).
But she's worried about council rejecting the report because of the leasing option.
"I've heard there's some councillors who aren't going to be supportive of this and that's quite shocking," she said. "They're not supportive of anything other than the city owning the building and all the bricks and mortar that go with it."
Early reviews of the plan by library users were positive.
Linda Watson, who often visits the St. Vital Library, said amalgamating it with Windsor Park and possibly leasing the building would be fine, in her books. …