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Guelph mayor asking to push back $67M library vote until November

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

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie says city council should not be voting on a proposed $67-million library during Monday night’s meeting at city hall.

In an interview before the meeting, Guthrie said there are too many unknowns with respect to funding, but there would be more clarity if the vote was pushed back to November.

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

“What I’m asking council to consider doing is allowing for about a seven- to eight-week delay before we make any further decisions, especially on the price tag of $67 million,” he said.

The budget and size of the library planned for the Baker District have fluctuated in recent months, going as low as $34 million and a size of 47,000 square feet.

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Staff are now recommending $67 million for 88,000 square feet.

Guthrie said he isn’t sure if his motion to delay the vote will pass, but he thinks council needs to wait for a number of reasons.

One reason is that staff will provide more budget information in October. Two meetings are scheduled next month that pertain to the city’s capital budget, including the 10-year capital forecast.

There is also uncertainty with the upper-levels of government that are anticipated to help pay for the library.

READ MORE: Guelph’s Baker District project receives $175K from feds for sustainable planning

It’s unclear which direction the winning party will take with infrastructure grants after the federal election on Oct. 21, Guthrie said.

He added that more details on the provincial government’s new community benefit charge are expected at the end of October.

The deadline to submit applications to the provincial and federal governments for funding is on Nov. 12 and Guthrie mentioned that the date could be used as a deadline to vote on the library.

A staff report going to council is calling for an extra 0.86 per cent to be added to property taxes to help pay for the construction. Operational costs could increase that number once the library is built.

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But Guthrie believes holding off on the vote to get more information could possibly reduce that number.

READ MORE: Guelph halts discussion on new library plans as projected costs grow

“For a tax levy to be put on upon everyone in the city to build this library is not going over well and it’s something we need to take some time to understand,” he said.

Over a dozen delegates have signed up to speak during Monday’s meeting, which gets underway at 6 p.m.

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