‘Ottawa’ New Library Should Go Where People Live, Work, Shop, Consultation Told
Judging by applause, many of the people who turned out Monday to tell the Ottawa Public Library Board how it should pick a site for a new central library want it to be not just central but downright downtown.
About 125 people turned out at one the first of two public consultation sessions at city hall where, again and again, the roundtable groups concluded that the new building should be located where lots of people live, work and shop. They said it should be easily accessible on foot or walkable from public transit and parking.
There was clapping for conclusions from several that “central means core” and that means east of Bronson Avenue.
“We want a central library for today — not 50 years from now,” said Paulette Dozois, who walks to work downtown through largely-empty LeBreton Flats, now slated for redevelopment, and says the library should be near existing homes, offices and businesses.
Jack Davis, a retired school principal who walks to the current Metcalfe Street main branch almost daily, wants the library to be between Bronson and Elgin Street and adjacent to a planned light-rail station.
“That’s where the people are — the residents, the workers and the visitors,” he said. “It needs to be included in the slate of things you do at lunch hour before you jump on the LRT to go home.”
The sessions Monday included an outline of the process by Coun. Tim Tierney, chairman of the library board, and a talk by Judith Hare, the longtime chief executive of the Halifax library system who oversaw the construction of its now-iconic central branch, which attracts 6,000 visitors a day and made CNN’s list of top-10 buildings.
The Ottawa Public Library board hopes to approve the criteria for shortlisting potential sites on July 12.
People will also be able to give their feedback on how a site should be picked in an online survey this month and next.
A planned site is expected to be made public before the end of 2016, including whether to go ahead with a proposed partnership with Library and Archives Canada for a joint building, how the project will be implemented and a price tag.
If approved by the library board and city council, groundbreaking is slated for spring 2018 with an official opening in 2020.
A year ago, the library board defined the “central area” where the library would be located as bounded by the Ottawa River to the north and Wellington, Albert, Gloucester or Lisgar streets to the south, King Edward Avenue to the East and Bayview Station to the west.
But the group Bookmark the Core launched a petition Friday calling for the library to be located within an area bounded by Wellington Street to the north, Somerset Street to the south, the Rideau Canal to the east and Bronson Street to the west.
More in-person consultations on what the new library spaces and services should look like are scheduled for June 15 and 22.