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This article was published 10/7/2012 (3434 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The City of Winnipeg wants to amalgamate the aging St. Vital and Windsor Park libraries and create a facility to serve both communities.
Rick Walker, the city’s manager of library services, said construction is scheduled to begin in 2013 at a cost of $5.8 million.
The two libraries are among eight slated for replacement with seven new facilities across Winnipeg.
According to city documents, the 17, 300-sq. ft. St. Vital branch (6 Fermor Ave.) was built in 1963 and requires significant renovation and maintenance. The building has multiple levels not accessible by elevator and limited parking only accessible by a lane that backs onto neighbouring homes.
The 6,658-sq. ft. Windsor Park location (955 Cottonwood Rd.) was built in 1961 and also requires upgrades. There is no elevator access to the lower level of the building which houses the children’s section, making it challenging for parents with small children and strollers. It also has limited parking.
Walker said it’s premature to speculate on the location of the proposed new library as planners are considering several sites, but said the key is to build a regional facility to serve both communities.
"It needs to be on a high traffic route and be easily accessible and highly visible to be a destination point," Walker said.
Walker said the city will use a template model for the proposed libraries to give them a generic design — 14,000-sq. ft. with approximately 40 parking spaces — although this is subject to change.
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said he loves the old St. Vital library building because it’s part of the community, but noted it’s leaking and has accessibility issues.
"It has terrible parking. It’s the worst parking lot in the world," Mayes said, noting a possible new location could be at St. Anne’s Road and Fermor Avenue, as it would serve seniors and low-income residents in the area and be serviced by a transit route.
Mayes said the building is architecturally valuable to the community and hopes at least part of it will be preserved during the amalgamation process.
"Maybe it could be a daycare. I don’t want it torn down and replaced by a parking lot. My goal is to keep it for the community’s use," he said.
"Also, is it cheaper to renovate? People are saying it will be a fraction of the cost to renovate the old building, but I think it would cost quite a bit. Maybe we’re better off with a new building."
St. Vital resident Stacey Denby likes the notion of an upgraded library — but only if there’s a demand for it in the digital age.
"It’s a great idea. I’m hoping people still use libraries, but now I can download books at home for my kids," she said, noting the parking is "horrible."
"Maybe the money could go to something else, like investing in community centres or a water park, as I’d like to see more free things for kids to do."
Simon Fuller is the reporter/photographer for The Lance. Canstar’s senior reporter, he joined the team in June 2009 to write for The Sou’wester, which was then the new paper in the Canstar family.