131: Will the case for a Downtown Library borrow from the Civic Hospital lesson?

mckenny-mckenna

Ottawa is getting a new library (a partnership with the Library and Archives Canada) in a few years and like anything else in this city (read Post 129 Hospital Hopscotch: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/129-hospital-hopscotch/) ) there is controversy! That we know what other sites were being consdered was due to the Library Board previously deciding that the only site Ottawans needed to know about was the final site. Because of the brohaha created by Somerset Councillor Catherine McKenny, the Library board did agree to release the locations of all sites be cosidered.

We heard that the new Ottawa Central Library will be located about one kilometre west of the current Central Library location at Metcalfe and Laurier which currently  serves as the Downtown ‘local’ branch for tens of thousands that consider the downtown their home. By moving the Central Library into new spiffy digs on the edge of LeBretn Flats, will downtowners follow the LRT line down to the new location?

Two groups are fighting to keep a Centretown/Downtown location alive. Bookmark the Core and the Centretown Citizens Community Association (CCCA) have been busy working to keep the new location in the core. The announcement this week has the downtown users just on the edge of being able to call it downtown. The CCCA even sent Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna a letter hoping that she would do for Centertown and the library what she did for the Ottawa Civic Hospital, they use the words “…in admiration for what you achieved in ensuring transparency…”. MP McKenna has not said anything publicly (that have read anywhere) about the new proposed library site, and considering how her ‘input’ into the Civic hospital site decision (you really should read Post 129: Hospital Hopscotch) is being viewed she will likely stay out of this battle.

There is one thing that the City and the Ottawa Library Board needs to address, if what Library Chief Executive Danielle McDonald said was true and that the current central library location also serves as the downtown branch, where will the downtown branch considered to be? LeBreton Flats? Will Centertowners haul their book bag to the Old Ottawa South Sunnyside Branch or will they head to Sandy Hill?

There will be a need for a smaller Downtown branch to serve the people that not only live in the core, but work in the core. 25% of users of the current Central branch work or live in the downtown. But, will they walk the extra 1 kilometer west or hop on the LRT to the new location?

If there could be a new “local” downtown branch where could it be? It would have to be in a building currently owned by the City, with Ottawa spending perhaps $100M for a new Central Library there will be no money available to build a new downtown branch. There are very few locations that would be suitable. Perhaps a building currrently being used by the City that has an ice rink nearby would have some space for a small library to serve us Centretowners?

City Council votes on the proposed site in February and it is unlikely that lightening will strike twice and what happened in the case of the Ottawa Hospital will also take place with the Ottawa Central Library.

Before the vote at council, Somerset Councilor McKenny will be joined by the other members of the Ottawa Council Urban Caucus (Tobi Nussbaum, Jeff Lieper, Mathie Fleury and David Chernushenko) and host a public open house on the new Central Library on January 18, 2017 at City Hall starting at 6pm. To prepare for that meeting, read more on what McKenny and Nussbaum have to say in this piece written for the Ottawa Citizen, http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/mckenney-and-nussbaum-three-questions-about-the-central-librarys-proposed-site.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

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