The RPL presented an update about the future of Central Library to the City of Regina Executive Committee at 9 am on Wed Sept 7th. The RPL Board had looked at 7 options, but they were not shared with the public. Without obtaining public views on the options, the RPL Board decided to tear down the current Central Library and build a new one. But the RPL’s vote will not be made until their Sept. 27 Board meeting.
People can view the RPL reports about Central Library at the RPL website on Friday Sept. 16 sometime after 12 noon. https://www.reginalibrary.ca/about/leadership/board-meetings-2022
A request to make a presentation and written submissions must be in to the RPL by 12 Noon on Tuesday Sept. 20. (Please follow instructions exactly, phone the RPL if you have any doubts or questions. They are extremely strict about their rules.) https://www.reginalibrary.ca/about/leadership/presenting-to-the-board Specify that you want your submission to go to all of the Board members. And specifically state that you want to make a presentation on Sept. 27
Direct link to Sept. 7, 2022 City of Regina Executive Committee Agenda http://reginask.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=4610&Inline=True
Direct link to the PDF that contains the RPL proposal and citizen presentations http://reginask.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=4610&Inline=True
Letters sent in that are included in the agenda:
- Joanne Havelock, Friends of the Regina Public Library (pages 17 to 19)
- Jim Elliott (page 20) plus RPL Building Assessment Report (pages 21 to 185 including RPL Modernization, Order of Magnitude Cost Estimate pages 155 to 185).
- Shawne Arzab (pages 186-187)
First the RPL made its presentation, then the citizens made their presentations. RPL presentation (pages 189 to 208).
Link to the individual citizen letters and presentations (saves scrolling through the Agenda Packet) https://friendsofrpl.ca/2022/09/08/presentations-and-letters-about-centrals-future/
Direct link to RPL Building Assessment 2015 with details on building conditions. RPL Building Assessment_ Feb 2015 This document estimates $28.5 million in costs, the RPL is now publicly guesstimating $50 million (but no figures have been released to justify this statement.
People could attend the meeting in person. Also, the meeting was broadcast through the City of Regina’s meeting portal and through Access Communications See details on this page http://reginask.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx (City Council meetings are usually broadcast on Access channel 7 TV, but Committee meetings are not usually broadcast on TV, so watch online or attend in person.)
Seeing the video of the presentations and questions by City Councillors In future, if you go to the City website, the link (http://reginask.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx) is to the meeting portal of the City of Regina. Scroll down, identify the meeting, and select Agenda, Agenda Packet, Minutes, or Video.
At any time people can send in letters to the City Clerks firstname.lastname@example.org to pass on to the Councillors, and email or phone City Councillors directly. And to the Library Board to email@example.com
It was thought that the future of Regina’s modernist Central Library might be decided at the RPL Board meeting on June 22, 2021.
But the expected report from Colliers Project Leaders and KPMG to the RPL Board, was not complete.
In the Fall of 2019, the Regina Public Library contracted Colliers Project Leaders and KPMG to develop a needs assessment and project plan to determine the future of Central Library in Regina. Their work, to review previous engineering, architectural and public consultation reports, and to also conduct further public engagement exercises, can be found here “Central Library Renewal” https://www.reginalibrary.ca/about/major-projects
At the most recent community open house on February 5, 2020, the vast majority of participants said that they appreciated the current building, and saw no reason to get rid of it rather than fixing what needed fixing and adding on if needed. A random sample telephone poll survey to ascertain public opinion about “Central Library investment” was conducted in March-April 2021. FRPL did not receive a reply to a request for information about survey methodology and questions. Previous public consultations have been about general ideas; so far, no specific options for the future of the building have been shared with the public.
In support of the RPL Budget for 2021, FRPL’s address to Regina City Council highlighted the heritage value of our current Central Library, citing it as a classic example of modernist architecture, designed by a Regina engineering and architectural firm Izumi, Arnott and Sugiyama.
At the City’s Executive Committee on January 6, 2021, and at City Council on May 24, 2021, questions on the future cost of the “Central Library renewal” and the extent of public consultation on the future of Central Library were raised. When asked whether Heritage Regina had been consulted, the Library replied that while RPL was definitely aware of the heritage designation of Central Library, it was up to the Colliers Project Leaders and KPMG consultants to contact stakeholders; and, AFTER a decision was made about the future of Central Library, people knowledgeable about the process for changes to heritage buildings or designation would be consulted.
The discussion of the RPL budget mill rate increase is available at http://reginask.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=5255 FRPL’s presentation and Councillor questions run from 1:13 to 1:29. City Council’s question of the RPL Director start at the 6:30 point on the video recording and are done by 8:06, with the future of Central Library being one of the topics for questions.
The RPL will put forward its proposal to the City of Regina Executive Committee on Sept. 7, 2022.
At this time, the RPL has not laid out plans for full public discussion of options for the future of Central Library before final decisions are made.
Central Library is part of the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District. The urgency of this situation is because, if a demolition permit is requested by the RPL Board, the public will have only 30 days to argue for the Heritage Status of this modernist gem.
While the RPL Board has said there is no foregone conclusion, the tone of the RPL webpage, the PDF of their Sept. 7 presentation and media interviews, along with comments of some civic leaders, would lead one to think that a new building is the desired outcome. This would mean tearing down the modernist 1962 Central Library.
Presciently, the 1962 Central Library Grand Opening program notes indicates that, if more space were needed, the vacant piece of land on the west side of the library property would allow for library expansion. Engineering reports indicated that it is possible to build a 3rd storey on the main building. More recently, the 2005 Patkau renovation of the Winnipeg Centennial Library is an excellent example of expansion. Friends of the Regina Public Library, and along with many individuals and organizations interested in heritage and architecture, and many long-time library users, have long promoted these options.
Libraries are about preserving and sharing knowledge. Knowledge is contained in books, in digital formats, in art, in music, as well as in buildings and landscape. Thus, preserving the heritage embodied in the Central Library is within the role of the Regina Public Library, for the benefit of all citizens. Not every library building will necessarily have significant historical and cultural value, but Central Library – an iconic modernist building situated on historic Victoria Park – does have that value.
Please feel free to contact FRPL by email or call (306) 535-9570 for further discussion.
 “Patkau Architects of Vancouver joined local firm LM Architectural Group to design an award-winning expansion and renovation project that added a fourth storey, a multilevel reading terrace and a four-storey glass curtain wall overlooking the garden.” https://www.winnipegarchitecture.ca/251-donald-street/