The Cornish Library will be closed for at least two months, after ice buildup knocked out its heating and supply chain woes mean replacement parts can’t be sourced soon.
The Winnipeg public library at 20 West Gate in the Armstrong’s Point neighbourhood is one of the city’s oldest, built in 1915. The building reopened in July 2021 after a renovation.
The outdoor heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit that failed Jan. 9 was installed as part of that extensive work.
Brent Piniuta, project delivery office manager in the Winnipeg municipal accommodations department, said city staff installed temporary heaters after the failure was discovered.
"There may have been one day, or the same day of the occurrence, that the public were in the building. However, the temporary heaters are not able to maintain room temperature," Piniuta said.
"So for comfort purposes for patrons and staff, the building was closed."
Those heaters will keep it warm enough to avoid any damage to the building, the city said.
Getting replacement parts for the heating unit is a challenge.
"The city, and probably everyone else, are experiencing global supply chain issues with almost any type of building materials that we order," Piniuta said.
"We think the turnaround time is at least two to three months to get the equipment that we need here in Winnipeg so we can complete the repairs."
City staff are still investigating the cause of the ice build up.
The $3.47-million renovation that began in 2018 included adding an accessible entrance and an accessible washroom, a redesign of spaces (with adult, children’s and teen areas on the main floor), a computer area, and study and leisure spaces.
An extension was also built on the south of the building, toward the Assiniboine River. Work on the lower level resulted in new program and meeting areas, as well as a washroom. The city also did other general repairs, such as the installation of the new HVAC unit.
Linda Sigurdson Collette, a long-time Armstrong’s Point resident and spokeswoman for the Friends of the Cornish Library, was glad to learn of the city’s plan for the building until repairs can be completed.
"Thank heavens," she said. "I’m pleased to hear there’s enough heat."
The city said any materials placed on hold at the Cornish Library can be picked up at Harvey Smith Library (999 Sargent Ave.) beginning Friday. Materials currently checked out can be returned at any Winnipeg library branch.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.