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City tables library redevelopment plan through to 2020

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The City of Winnipeg plans to spend more than $8 million on upgrades to libraries in west Winnipeg through 2020.

As part of its preliminary 2013 capital budget plans released last week, the city gave a speak peek into its library development strategy, which include the renovation or replacement of eight public libraries.

"These libraries are all 50 years of age, or approaching 50 years of age and built in a very different time when library services were very different from what they are today," said Rick Walker, the city’s manager of library services.

The city is proposing to spend just under $1 million on a new lease for the Charleswood library to occur sometime in 2013. It’s also proposing to spend an additional $1.1 million on the Westwood library and $6.1 million on the St. James library, slated to open in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

According to the strategy, the city is looking to commission a standardized library design, about 14,000 square feet in size, for the libraries it wants to replace.

The libraries will accommodate more room for public computers, training labs and multi-purpose rooms as the library expands its technology and literacy programming.

It’s too early to say what the plans may be for the Westwood and St. James libraries, however, Walker was vague about plans for the Charleswood library, which the city has indicated it wants to complete and reopen this year.

"Until the capital budget is passed, we can’t move forward," he said, acknowledging that the city will hold public consultations on the projects.

"We will be looking at what we want the new library to be, and what the needs of the community are today. We don’t know if it will be relocated and rebuilt."

Built in 1966, the Charleswood library is the city’s smallest branch at little more than 4,900 sq.-ft. It needs upgrades to its flooring, windows, roof and electrical system.

The Westwood and the St. James libraries both require HVAC and plumbing upgrades, along with flooring replacements and other safety or accessibility upgrades.

The strategy came before the city’s protection and community services committee on Jan. 14.

The city’s preliminary capital and operating budgets will come before council for approval on Jan. 29.         

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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