On the final day for catalyst committee public surveys, attendants heard from the Regina Public Library Board on a proposed new Central Library.
The story starts back in 2008, when the RPL board started a formal review of the central library building.
From that review the board concluded its best step forward would be to construct a new library on the same land the old one currently sits.
This gathered some reaction from the public, with some in favour citing the location would bolster the economy downtown along with added benefits to Regina’s homeless population.
“This is good for people that are at risk. This is good for people that have diverse needs for inclusive supports whether that be newcomers or accessibility needs,” said Victor Roman with the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation.
Others were concerned too much was being spent on a new building and felt the board didn’t factor heritage buildings and the environment into account.
Local social rights and peace activist Florence Stratton had harsh comments for the board. “Please do not demolish central library and replace it with a new central library but rather fix what needs to be fixed in the current building.”
Built in the ’60s, the library was considered state of the art. Now, as highlighted in the board’s review, it faces continuous issues.
“The library is about half the size it needs to be. Every day that we are working on a new service we have to figure out where are we going to puzzle it into the picture,” said RPL CEO Jeff Barber.
Elevators and escalators continue to break down, with the review saying it leaves people stranded. It also mentioned dark corners and dead ends, and a lack of independent access to the film theatre for those who have mobility issues.
In the board’s proposal, it includes a new facility double the size of the old library. No early renderings have been made but the board wants to ensure it would contain dynamic spaces, where residents could meet for lectures, stop for a coffee or catch up with friends.
The board is also expecting a new addition would also increase foot traffic. They say the Central Library currently sees roughly 470,000 visitors annually. They believe the new building would add an additional 250,000.
The catalyst committee will present their reports to Regina city council in January 2023.