Guelph city council has approved the business plan for a new main branch of the Guelph Public Library.
The 10-1 vote Tuesday night is a big step towards replacing the current facility sitting at the corner of Paisley and Norfolk streets that’s over 50 years old.
The CEO of the Guelph Public Library, Steven Kraft, says there are many reasons why it’s time to build a new library with accessibility issues being one of them.
“Many people don’t use the library because it’s hard to find parking, it’s hard to get in and out of the library, they can’t move conveniently between the floors, the elevator is old, washrooms are not in good shape,” he said in an interview Tuesday morning.
Kraft also mentioned that the library is simply too small and the business plan the library board is presented to councillors calls for an 88,000-square-foot structure as part of the Baker Street parking lot development at a cost of about $50 million.
“As a mixed-use concept, the way the city has a vision for that development we’ll get a lot of cross-use in terms of various businesses, residents that are there and recreational use too,” Kraft said.
Plans for a new library have been in the works for years, but even with this plan, Kraft admits he’s heard concerns about the price tag.
“I completely understand that because this is an expensive project, but there’s no getting around that,” he said.
“The city needs a new main library and right now we’re in a deficit situation in terms of collection, in terms of materials and in terms of space.”
Signing off on the actual construction of the library isn’t expected until at least 2019, but on Tuesday, council voted on the size of the library and approved $1.9 million to allow for preliminary design concepts.
Council also asked city staff to look at various ownership options, including full ownership, lease to own and long-term lease.
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