New library will stay downtown

The new main library will remain in Centretown, the chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board has confirmed.

The library will be located in an area between Bronson Avenue and the Rideau Canal, and Wellington Street and Gladstone Avenue, says chair Jan Harder, also city councillor for Barrhaven. She would not reveal the exact location being considered by the board to prevent the cost of the land being driven up by speculators.

The new library would replace the main library located on Metcalfe Street and Laurier Avenue.

“It’s important to have a new central library in the heart of the city,” says Harder. “People in the downtown core should not be concerned that they will be without a downtown branch.”

Over the years, various locations have been advanced, but recently board members have vaguely said they hoped it would be “downtown.”

The board placed value on locations with accessibility during discussions, says Harder.

“It has to be very close to transit, so that it’s accessible to anybody throughout the whole city,” says Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes, a library board member.

About 5,000 people go to the current main library every day and the board expects the number to double with the new library, says Harder.

Kanata South Coun. Peggy Feltmate, another library board member, says the downtown location of the new library will continue to serve local residents, businesses and tourists.

The board wants to ensure that services provided by the new facility would not only be continued but would be enhanced, says Feltmate.

But before the city can buy land, the board needs to finish a report that will outline sites for the new facility.

The report must be approved by the corporate services and economic development committee and city council before a purchase can occur.

The report was scheduled to be approved by the library board at a meeting later this month but it has been delayed, says Harder.

Feltmate says the report is not likely to be completed until sometime in the new year.

Library funding will be discussed in the 2009 budget meetings in November and December.

However, support from councillors and the public for the new library is uncertain because the city is facing a 4.9-per-cent tax increase for 2009.

Selling the current main library is expected to generate funds for the new facility, says Feltmate.

And the new library would not be fully funded by tax payers, says Harder. The city would seek support from other levels of government, private enterprises and support groups, she says.

But residents should not expect to see the new facility any time soon. It will take another three to four years to build it is approved, says Feltmate.