McKenney seeking community input after Central Library location decision

The proposed site of Ottawa’s new $168-million Central Library — identified Dec. 15 by the library board as a city-owned property at the northeast corner of Albert and Booth streets — has prompted criticism and questions from community advocates, including Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, who had pushed for a downtown-core location east of Bronson Avenue and west of the Rideau Canal.

McKenney and five other councillors are hosting a public meeting Jan. 18 to gauge community reaction to the controversial choice of the site on the edge of LeBreton Flats below the escarpment along Albert Street. 

The proposed library would be jointly funded by the city and the federal government and would embody a new partnership between the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada.

McKenney reacted to the board’s proposed site by tweeting that the news was “not surprising,” adding that a “June 2015 report called it the ‘preferred site.’ Community knew all along it was a done deal.”

Critics of the choice, including the group Bookmark the Core and the Centretown Citizens Community Association, have argued that the vast majority of downtown library users walk to the current Main branch and will not be well served by a location to the west of the city’s central core.

A final decision on the site of the Central Library will be made by city council in February. The planned partnership between the city library and Library and Archives Canada is to be finalized in June.