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New main branch of Guelph Public Library may be smaller than expected

Preliminary artist rendering of what Guelph's Baker District redevelopment could look like once developed.
Preliminary artist rendering of what Guelph's Baker District redevelopment could look like once developed. City of Guelph / Supplied

The new branch of the Guelph Public Library planned for the Baker District redevelopment may be smaller than expected.

A report going to city council recommends a design that is no more than 65,000 square feet, which would be a downsize of 23,000 square feet and $12 million less than originally proposed.

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The report points to many hurdles and recent funding changes made under the Progressive Conservative government.

According to the report, Bill 108 enacted in June “creates significant uncertainty with future revenues.”

Starting in 2021, the city will not be able to collect development charges for parks, parking or libraries and the city was hoping to collect $24 million for the library with those charges.

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It’s not known if the province’s new Community Benefits Charge will replace the charges being eliminated.

There are also issues with 500 parking spaces planned for the development as they may contradict the city’s plan to become 100 per cent renewable energy and net carbon zero by 2050.

Crews would also have to dig through bedrock for underground parking, which will lead to excessive costs, the report stated.

There are fears that the library’s meeting areas and a multi-purpose room with over 300 seats at a discounted rate would negatively compete with other city-owned sites and their revenues, such as the River Run Centre and museum.

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The full report can be read on the city’s website. Council will discuss the recommendations during a meeting at city hall on July 22.

The development plan is expected to be approved by city council this fall.