New $62 million downtown Guelph library up for discussion and a vote this week
Published Sunday, October 4, 2020 8:01PM EDT
GUELPH -- Guelph city councillors will be discussing and voting on the downtown Baker district redevelopment this week, which includes a new library priced at $62 million.
Discussion begins on Monday for council and the decision will be ratified during a special meeting on Wednesday.
“We waited a generation for this,” said ward two councillor James Gordon. “How can we wait any longer?
“It will totally revitalize the economy of the downtown, it will created jobs, and it’s more and more needed.”
City staff are expected to present the alternative site layout Monday.
Gordon says that, while council approved the project and its cost in September 2019, some councillors are now reconsidering amid the uncertainty of the pandemic and the loss of funding from the government.
“Should we be investing in our future?” said Gordon. “My firm belief is the answer to that is yes.”
The decision to move forward with the build will mean a 0.39 per cent tax levy increase starting next year and remaining for 20 years. Gordon adds that this will add up to $1.25 a month for the average homeowner.
“I would think that is a very good use of taxpayer money,” one Guelph resident says. “I’m very much in favour of a newer, more modern, bigger library.”
Guelph residents who spoke to CTV News Sunday all say they are in favour of the new library.
“I think it’s worth it,” another resident says. “These guys [the kids] will make full utilization out of it, maybe their kids will have it, so I’m okay with paying for it.”
Gordon says there are 55,000 current library card holders and that membership is rising.
“Our most vulnerable citizens rely on this as a free, accessible, safe, and welcoming space,” he said.
The main library on Norfolk Street will be torn down if the project goes ahead. Gordon says they hope the sale of the property can help the fund of the new build.