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Large controversy surrounding library move in small Quebec town

Click to play video 'The location of a public Library has a small Quebec town divided' The location of a public Library has a small Quebec town divided
WATCH: The Ormstown library has always been located on a quiet street but now, the city wants to move the facility to a new building next to a medical clinic and drug store – Oct 7, 2020

Some residents in the rural community of Ormstown in the Chateauguay Valley are outraged that the town council voted in favour of eventually relocating the municipal library.

Under the plan, the existing library located on a quiet residential street surrounded by a soccer field and playground would move to a new location several blocks away on a busy boulevard.

Elected officials voted in favour of the move to open a new library in a new commercial building that is under construction.

The town would lease space for the library from a developer for five years next to a new medical clinic and drug store.

“I think it’s been despicable,” Cheryl Johnstone, an Ormstown resident told Global News.

Read more: Mini-libraries improving children’s literacy across Montreal

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Johnstone insists the public was never consulted on the move and the population was blocked from a recent council meeting held on Zoom.

“There is no democracy in this. It’s being rammed down our throats,” Jamie Henderson, another Ormstown resident said.

Dr. Tom Vandor resigned from council office over this issue. The physician argues sharing a library with a medical complex poses a public health risk.

“In these times it seems to be very unwise. And if anything happens, I do not want to be associated with a group of people who are going to be accused of negligence,” Vandor said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec library network reopens archive centres to the public

But sitting town councillor Ken Dolphin disagrees. He told Global News the existing library is too small, outdated and it leaks.

Dolphin says leasing a new, larger and modern library in a commercial building is less expensive than building a new one which is anticipated to cost between $1.5 million and $2 million.

Dolphin says the lease is for five years which gives the town time to apply for a provincial grant and build a new permanent library that the town can afford and call its own.

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“Then we can decide where we want to put a permanent library,” he said.

Residents, however, say the focus should be on renovating the existing one first before leasing a new library.