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'Standalone buildings are not the way to do business': Smaller, cheaper plan needed for new library, Davies says
SASKATOON -- The Saskatoon Public Library Board needs to come up with a smaller and cheaper plan for a new central library, Coun. Troy Davies says.
The cost for a new downtown library is estimated to be just over $150 million, with $87.5 million in borrowing needed. In addition to borrowing, funding sources would include Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) reserve funds and donations.
Davies outlined some of his concerns following a Governance and Priorities Committee meeting at City Hall Tuesday.
“I just think the general footprint of the entire building and the price tag that comes with it,” he said. “I heard when we were down at the VenuesNow Conference, whether it’s a rink, whether it’s TCU Place, whether it’s a convention centre, whether it’s a library, stand-alone buildings are not the way to do business moving forward.”
City administration tabled a report saying borrowing money for the central library alone would not exceed the city’s approved debt limit of $558 million. However, it also says the current debt projection doesn’t include borrowing for other future projects such as a downtown arena, water treatment plant or relocation of the city yards.
The functional plan for a new library includes indoor and outdoor green spaces, a children’s play area, a space for ceremonies, public meetings, a café operated by a tenant, space for local history with storage for irreplaceable materials, and a mix of quiet and animated areas for use by both groups and individuals.
Administration says among city-owned or operated facilities, the total capacity for bookable spaces at these facilities is estimated to accommodate 52,984 people. It adds there are an additional 135 facilities including churches, schools, restaurants and clubs with private booking spaces.
“Considering all factors, at this time, the administration has no fact-based or anecdotal evidence to support the need for construction of significant additional general-use community space in the downtown. As such, the administration believes that the new central library design should minimize general-use community space,” a report from administration says.
Carol Cooley, Director of Libraries and CEO, said the current plan would offer opportunities for people who can’t afford to book space.
“As we stated in October, many people in our community cannot afford to use fee and admission-based services, and the library has a public space that is available free-of-charge.”
City Council is expected to make a decision on the library plan during budget deliberations later this month.