‘We know that Saskatoon deserves this’: City council votes for new central library

Members of Saskatoon's city council speak to members of the Saskatoon Public Library board ahead of the vote for a new central library in the city. Nathaniel Dove / Global News

Saskatoon city council has voted for a new central library, but at a reduced cost.

On the first day of a scheduled three-day debate about the city budget for 2020 and 2021, council voted on Monday to allocate $67.5 million for the proposed building, down from the original $87.5-million figure.

“I am thrilled,” said Lisa Erickson, chairperson of the Saskatoon Public Library Board.

“We know that Saskatoon deserves this library.”

The vote “means that the central library that we’ve known we’ve needed in Saskatoon for 20 years will become a reality,” Erickson said.

The changed amount means the board will have to change their original plans, but that the project will go ahead.

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Erickson said the board hopes to deliver the library in 2026.

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The lowered amount decreases the contingency fund for the project.

The costs of the library moving forward will cost city taxpayers $5 in 2020 and $10 in 2021. The costs are scheduled to rise by $5 until the costs of the project are met.

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon Public Library proposes new $154M downtown building'
Saskatoon Public Library proposes new $154M downtown building

Erickson said the benefits to residents make the library worthwhile.

“A book is a seed, a library a garden. Please water the garden,” said Man Booker Prize-winning author Yann Martel, who wrote Life of Pi and is a Saskatoon resident.

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The vote came after several hours of debate about the cost and functionality of the new building.

The debate was complicated by the fact that there are no blueprints for any proposal.

Erickson told council it would be “disingenuous” to have plans created when the funds weren’t secure because the allocated funds dictate the size and scope of the project.

Coun. Troy Davies, a critic of a standalone library, said it was like paying for a mortgage without seeing the house.

Davies was one of several councillors to propose new amounts. At one point five different amounts were before the council, ranging from the original amount to Davies proposed $35 million.

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