Residents rally against library relocation


Advertise with us

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/05/2022 (317 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Residents of Garden City and West Kildonan are rallying against the proposed relocation of West Kildonan Library from a city-owned building at 365 Jefferson Ave. to a rental space at Garden City Shopping Centre.

“I’m disappointed that a real estate committee looking at this from a dollars and cents point of view didn’t nix it right then and there, because it’s not a wise financial decision,” said Daniel Guenther, chair of Garden City Residents’ Association.

If council approves the relocation, renovation costs, operational costs and rent will run the city north of $6 million over a 10-year lease, which would have the option of renewal for an additional 10 years at a price yet to be negotiated.

While the operational costs would exist at the current location, Guenther said for many reasons, he’d still prefer the city use the $3.7 million earmarked for the library to renovate the current location.

The city would spend $2 million for renovations at the mall location. The mall would contribute $1.75 million. Ontario-based RioCan runs the Garden City Shopping Centre and would have to sign off on all work done in the space.

“We’re saying no to a small windowless space that residents don’t want,” Guenther said.

Guenther said that along with Steve Snyder, past chair of Seven Oaks Residents’ Association, and a few others, they’d spoken to “hundreds of people” in the area and estimated that 95 per cent of people said they opposed the relocation once they have the details. (Both Guenther and Synder write columns for the Free Press Community Review West.)

Guenther said he’d spoken to a principal whose students walked to West Kildonan Library who said those sorts of education trips would be impossible to Garden City Shopping Centre.

The proposed space at the mall wouldn’t have exterior access, and Guenther and Snyder worried marginalized communities, such as those experiencing homelessness, would no longer feel comfortable accessing services.

Snyder recalled the pushback to security at Millennium Library, which many criticized as further disenfranchising at-risk communities, and noted the parallels in the proposed relocation.

“And yet we’re moving this library to a place where there’s constant mall security,” Snyder said.

Snyder noted the relocation is a move toward privatization of public services, and one that directs money to a private, out-of-province real estate firm.

“That’s six and a half million dollars that leaves the province and doesn’t employ people here,” Guenther said.

Guenther and Synder both criticized city hall’s process to this point. The city did not engage the public on the proposed relocation and is moving on a recommendation initiated in 2013. Since then, a new library strategic plan was developed in 2020, which informs the greater Winnipeg Recreational Plan, which is being moved through council simultaneously to the relocation proposal.

“This is purely about cutting and trying to offload our city services and trying to offload public assets… These are purely real estate decisions and not library decisions,” Guenther said.

At Standing Policy Committee on May 9, Coun. Vivian Santos (Point Douglas) moved the city wait to transfer the current library building to the Real Estate Branch to be sold “until a proper evaluation of keeping the current West Kildonan Library in operation as a local library at its current location.” The motion was defeated due to a tie vote.

Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) said he believed it’s inevitable the relocation will be voted through council, so he’s turning his attention to repurposing the Jefferson Avenue building to provide other city services or partnerships with community groups or school divisions.

The executive policy committee will vote on the relocation May 18. If approved, it will likely reach the final vote at city council May 26, approximately three weeks after the relocation proposal was first made public in a standing policy committee meeting agenda.

Cody Sellar

Cody Sellar
Community Journalist

Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at or call him at 204-697-7206.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us