REGINA - The Central Library in Regina is on the move sooner than had been thought.
It was confirmed in a news release Wednesday that Regina Public Library Board of Directors is going ahead with the temporary relocation of Central Library services, starting in the fall of 2024.
The decision was made at a vote at their regular public meeting on Tuesday. According to their news release, the reason for the move is due to concerns with “failing building infrastructure” and its effects on business continuity.
“Central Library services will have to be temporarily relocated as construction of a new building advances,” said Marj Gavigan, Chair of Regina Public Library Board of Directors, in a statement. “We are simply moving forward with our relocation sooner than anticipated.”
A new Regina Public Library has been one of the major “catalyst” projects identified by the City of Regina which was subject to the recent Catalyst Committee recommendations. In their recent report, a new Central Library was listed as third in priority behind a new Walking Trail and a new Aquatic Centre.
The RPL board has expressed its preference to build a new Central Library at the current downtown location and to temporarily move the library elsewhere while the construction took place.
In a presentation to Regina council last September, the library board pointed to the massive costs in maintaining the current building as a reason why a new building was needed. Board chair Sean Quinlan pointed to a number of issues at the library including “code discrepancies, accessibility issues and building systems at or beyond expected usefulness.”
He said it would take $50 million for building system replacement and renovation just to bring the building up to code and keep the doors open.
Later in the month, the board voted in favor of replacement of the Central Library with a new building on the same location.
That decision has not been without opposition, with considerable pushback expressed at both the council and library board meetings last September against a demolition-and-replacement plan. Those opponents have expressed a preference for keeping and renovating the current venue.
In their latest announcement Wednesday, the board is citing a risk of unplanned closures as one reason for the move to a temporary location.
“The Board has determined that the risks of staying outweigh the benefits, and a temporary relocation downtown is the most prudent way forward,” Gavigan said. “Remaining in the current building puts service delivery at risk and isn’t an effective use of taxpayer money.”
For the time being, service will continue out of the current building until fall 2024, and the venue will continue to be maintained with short term fixes including roof patching. Once the library has relocated, it will be decommissioned, according to their news release.