PRETTY soon you could walk out of a local shopping mall without paying for a new book — and you wouldn’t be stealing it.

<p>The West Kildonan Library at 365 Jefferson Ave. in November 2019. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)</p>

The West Kildonan Library at 365 Jefferson Ave. in November 2019. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)

PRETTY soon you could walk out of a local shopping mall without paying for a new book — and you wouldn’t be stealing it.

For the first time, instead of building a new library, the city is looking at locating one in rented space in the Garden City Shopping Centre.

"It is kind of a pilot project," said Coun. Cindy Gilroy, chairwoman of the civic property and development committee. "I think it will be excellent and serve the northwest quadrant of the city well. It will also help support the mall.

"People will be able to go there, have something to eat, shop, and get their library books. It could also mean in future years we wouldn’t have to build as many buildings anymore."

A city report shows the proposed location will be near the west end of the mall, just behind the Bulk Barn, and at the location of the Lights of the North special exhibit during last year’s Christmas season.

If approved, the lease for the 14,962-square-foot space would cost $216,949 annually for the first five years and $231,911 for the second five years. The city would agree to pay up to $2 million toward improvements.

The mall would create an outdoor reading garden in consultation with the city’s library branch.

The city’s property and development committee will discuss the proposal at next week’s meeting.

Because the total cost is over $2 million, city council approval is required.

Gilroy said the new location offers other benefits.

"It will be bigger than the last location," she said.

"I do think it is an outstanding concept. We are used to have stand-alone libraries, but libraries are changing. They are not just for getting books now. People use computers there. They can rent a sewing table now. And we know malls are struggling across North America. This is a good opportunity to try this out."

The mall library would replace the West Kildonan Library at 365 Jefferson Ave, which was built in 1967 and is 13,960 square feet. The city’s capital budget had allocated $3.7 million for a new library.

A spokesperson for RioCan, the owner of the mall, could not be reached for comment.

A page on the mall’s website says more than 421,000 people live within 10 kilometres of it, 40 per cent of households in the area have children, and up to 50,000 vehicles a day drive past it.

When it opened at McPhillips Street and Leila Avenue in 1970, the mall had 100,000 square feet of space. By 1974, after a major expansion increased its size to 379,000 square feet, it housed both an Eaton’s and a Sears store.

Just like most malls in Canada, many of its retail outlets closed and it had to look for non-traditional tenants.

The mall currently features Winners, Canadian Tire, Seafood City, Michaels and GoodLife Fitness.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.