May 8, 2014 4:16 pm
Updated: May 8, 2014 9:09 pm

Edmonton’s Stanley A. Milner Library gets ready for a facelift


Watch above: The CEO of Edmonton Public Library says the Stanley Milner branch is overdue for some upgrades. Laurel Gregory reports.

EDMONTON – Pending approval and funding from city council in the fall, the Stanley A. Milner Library could receive a $56 million modern makeover.

The revitalization project would include a new look, asbestos removal, mechanical and electrical upgrades, and floor-to-ceiling second floor windows.

“The only direction we gave was we wanted it to be iconic,” says Linda Cook, director of the Stanley A. Milner Library.

“We wanted it to take its rightful place on Sir Winston Churchill Square, and we wanted [the architect] to take into consideration the beautiful buildings already surrounding it.”

Toronto’s Teeple Architects and Edmonton-based Architecture Arndt Tkalcic Bengert have been awarded a joint contract for the project.

The two companies also worked together on the construction of the Art Gallery of Alberta downtown.

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(Above: Designs for the interior and exterior revitalization of the Stanley A. Milner Library. Courtesy: Teeple Architects & Architecture Arndt Tkalcic Bengert)

The Stanley A. Milner Library was built in 1967.

Cook says it’s time for an upgrade.

“The interior and the exterior are badly in need of revitalization.”

“Unfortunately, not very much meets the 2006 Alberta Building Code anymore,” she explains. “We’re very safe, that’s not the issue, but once you touch something, you have to fix everything.”

However, funding for the project has not yet been completely secured.

“We went to council in the 2010-2014 capital budget presentations, and they awarded us just over $1 million to do a schematic design,” says Cook. “The building is solid; it has a very solid foundation.”

City councillors are hesitant to weigh in on the funding at this point, saying that there are many worthy recipients of tax dollars.

“Creating a brighter, newer, more ‘today’ exterior to a building that is already providing great services to our citizens is a nice idea,” said Councillor Bryan Anderson. “There are a number of great ideas on ways to spend capital dollars that are in very, very short supply.”

“It’s not adding a library for a needy population,” added Anderson. “It’s making an existing building look better and perhaps work a little better, and I’m not sure that aesthetics, in this particular upcoming budget, are going to receive high priority.”

“This will simply have to work its way into the queue and be prioritized by council.”

Councillor Tony Caterina believes there is more to the project than just a new look.

“I saw the photo… of the new façade part of it. What it doesn’t show, obviously, is the work that needs to be done to the actual building itself. It’s an old building.”

“I think that certainly there is merit in that particular library – being at the heart of downtown and next to Churchill Square – to have work done to it.”

Still, the budgetary requirements remain a challenge.

“I don’t have the details exactly where $56 million would go or how we would fund it at this point,” says Caterina. “I’m sure the ask will be there for capital budget for the next four years that we’re working on right now, and we’ll make the decisions come November.”

“We’ll see what everything is when everybody gets their projects on the table and which ones are more important to go ahead with.”

Cook explains the majority of the funding would have to come from city council, but other funding options aren’t being ruled out.

“We are doing a feasibility study in the next few months to determine whether or not there is private funding money out there that we may be able to bring to the table when we go to council in October.”

They could also request support from other levels of government.

“We are certainly going to be talking to them, especially the provincial government,” says Cook. “We don’t know of any grants that are available to us right now, but we certainly will be looking into them.”

If funding is approved by council in the fall, construction would begin by 2015 and the project could be completed within three years.

“The good news is we will not have to move out of this building. It will still be open to the public and the staff will still be here.”

With files from Brett Barrett, Global News

© 2014 Shaw Media

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