Sod-turning for library ‘indeed a happy day’
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This article was published 04/11/2019 (1181 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A new era of book lovers will soon have a modern, accessible space to contemplate literature and learning in River Heights.
Accompanied by three generations of her family, Helen Norrie helped turn the sod on the Bill and Helen Norrie Library, at the corner of Grant Avenue and Cambridge Street, on Oct. 29.
“It’s indeed a happy day that there are at last shovels in the ground for our new library,” Helen said. “I want to thank all those within the City of Winnipeg who have worked very hard to make this day possible.”
The library is named after Bill, who was a school trustee before being elected to municipal council, and later served as Winnipeg’s mayor from 1979 to 1992, and Helen, a retired school teacher and librarian whose career spanned two decades in the public school system, and served as the honorary campaign chair for the Cornish and St. John’s Library centennial renewal campaign. Bill died in 2012.
“He was a person who loved helping and interacting with people of Winnipeg. He would have been most grateful to know that his name was on this community-centred building,” Helen said.
“I know that this new library will be a place for all the citizens in this community to gather, to read, to learn, to listen, to work on computers, or just relax in a beautiful sun-filled space.”
The new 14,000-square-foot facility will replace the River Heights Library on Corydon Avenue when it opens in late 2020. According to the City, the River Heights Library no longer meets accessibility or programming standards, and most of the mechanical systems in the facility are at the end of their lifespan.
The new library, part of the Grant Park Recreation Campus, will be a fully accessible public space across a single level and will be the first City of Winnipeg facility to offer a universal bathroom, exclusively.
“This will be a meeting place, not only for just people in the Grant Park area, but also from the Linden Woods area,” Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) said. “We have it fully accessible, which will tie into the Grant Park school very, very well.
“We will continue to make this whole campus area fully accessible as pretty well a lighting rod for everybody else in the city.”
Orlikow said a future use for the former River Heights Library has not been confirmed, but he hopes to see it turned into a daycare space. The property the library is on is owned by the Winnipeg School Division, Orlikow said, and is leased by the City of Winnipeg.
The Bill and Helen Norrie Library will have 43 parking spots on-site and a patio and outdoor reading space. Inside, the library will have a multi-purpose classroom, tutorial rooms, children’s area, computer stations, collection area, and self-checkout stands.
The design of the Bill and Helen Norrie Library is inspired by Rooster Town, the Métis settlement that occupied the area until the late 1950s, when it was cleared for commercial and residential development.
Design features include a pitched roof, wood panelling, significant outdoor reading space, and earth tones. Inside, images and artifacts from Rooster Town, as well as books on the community, will be displayed throughout.
“If we lose ourselves in books, they say, we find ourselves too,” Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry), chair of the protection, community services, and parks committee, said. “I think our city can be found in our library system. It is decidedly and proudly Indigenous, it reflects our newcomer strategy, it defends social work as a practice, it emphasizes community health, and it reflects power couples like Helen and Bill Norrie, that built this city.”
The final cost for the Bill and Helen Norrie Library will be approximately $9.3 million, according to the City of Winnipeg. A class three estimate provided by the City in May had pegged the project at $6.3 million (-20 per cent/+30 per cent).