Central Branch Upgrade Planning History

Library Developments in 2014 (Updated Sept 12, 2014)

In June 2013 the previous Chair of the RPL Board resigned and a new Chair was selected.

In the Summer of 2013 the RPL had an on-line survey about library services including questions about Central Library. Library staff did assist those requesting assistance to fill the survey in on-line, however print copies of the survey were not available.

The new Library Board Chair acknowledged that it has been 5 years since the public was consulted and  the RPL Board planned to hold public consultations in 2014.

A talk and discussion was held on June 25, 2014 at the Central Library, led by the consulting group Dialog. Over the summer an on-line survey was available. Displays were set up at public events and the public was invited to provide their views of what they wanted in a library. An Open House will be held on Sept 18. (See posts for more details. https://friendsofrpl.ca/ )


Building Assessment

The Building Assessment about the condition of Central Library building has finally been made available on the RPL website. http://www.reginalibrary.ca/cld/?q=node/22
or view it here Building%20Assessment%20Summary%20-%20201206

This has some critical statements about the condition of the building and the potential for adaptive re-use.

“This report was originally prepared in 2009 and has been updated to reflect the
master Program prepared by Resource Planning Group. The report consists of a
facility analysis by P3A as Architects, JC Kenyon Engineering- Structural,
MacPherson Engineering- Mechanical, Ritenburg and Associates- Electrical,
Resource Planning Group- Library Programming and Functionality. The report
reflects the requirements of the Regina Public Library from a technical and
functional perspective and reviews issues related to building re-use.”

Feasibility Study – All the Options

The Feasibility Study containing the various options for Central Library is posted on the RPL website http://www.reginalibrary.ca/cld/?q=node/19   or available here Feasibility Study Report – Final – 2011

Since the Masonic Temple land is not available these ideas could not be carried out. But many of the thoughts would be brought forward into the new designs that are being developed right now.

The RPL Board anticipates putting a survey on its website, and releasing the new designs and holding public consultations in March of 2013.

Previous History

On April 29, 2009 the RPL announced that it had hired P3 Architecture Ltd. and Harvard Developments Inc.to develop the design and the partnerships needed. (See http://www.p3arch.com http://www.harvard.ca

The stated goal of the new development was to either replace or expand and renovate the current building.  From the beginning, the RPL Board and others involved have envisioned a major mixed-use development. http://www.rpl.regina.sk.ca/central_library/index.html

In June 2009, public consultations were held about visions for the Central Branch. In the summer of 2009 there was an opportunity to participate in an on-line questionnaire.

In August 2009 some very basic ideas for options of what the block would look like were presented – these are called “massing diagrams”.  The diagrams had features such as a tall building to the west of Knox-Metropolitan Church, a building encircling the Federal Building on Smith Street, a building encircling or replacing the Masonic Temple, an office tower / condo west of the current Central Library, and a building completely replacing the current Central Library building.

A further opportunity to comment on some more detailed concept designs was originally anticipated for late November, 2009.  However the design firm took needed extra time to work with library staff to ensure that the size and layout of space would function well to serve library patrons and function well as a work environment for library staff.

In addition, because the project vision was for a multi-purpose large scale commercial development, extra time was needed to determine funding partners, partners who may wish to locate in the building, and especially to hold discussions with the organizations in the block whose buildings or land could be part of the project or affected by the project. These included the Masonic Temple, Knox-Metropolitan Church and the Federal Building.

During his time concerns were expressed by many about the heritage value of the buildings that could potentially be affected. See Central Branch Upgrade – Heritage issues https://friendsofrpl.ca/library-planning/central-branch-upgrade-heritage-issues/

Former Development Plan

A plan for the new Central Branch that was made public in April 2011 showed both Central Branch building and the Masonic Temple gone and replaced with a large office tower complex. http://www.prairiedogmag.com/?p=22097


Detail of that plan can be seen in the 2011 feasibility study released in November 2012 by the RPL Board. Feasibility Study Report – Final – 2011

Under that plan the Library would have purchased the land from the Masons. They would have removed the current building and built the five storey “Cultural Centre” on the Masons’ site. CR11-68 – Cultural Centre Proposal The Library would have remained in its old building until the new building was built on the Masonic Temple site. The Central Library would have then been torn down and an office tower/condo complex built in its place. One possibility was that the large building developed would have been owned by a development company and the Library would lease back space, another would have been for the Library to own their portion of the building, much like a condo.

The RPL Board had applied for P3 (Public Private Partnership) Canada funding in the hope that (25%) of construction costs could be covered. http://www.p3canada.ca/p3-canada-fund-overview.php The City of Regina support for this application was discussed at a City Council meeting in June 2011.  The Masons expressed their concerns to that City Council meeting, stating they had not been properly consulted by the Library Board or developers. Masonic Temple letter to City Council re Cultural Centre In the Fall of 2011 the RPL proposal was accepted into the first stage of the P3 Canada funding process, but this was not publicly announced, but determined by FRPL in December 2011.

On January 4, 2012 the Library Board stated that it was in the process of negotiating with the Masons for the purchase of the masonic Temple, which would be torn down for the construction of a proposed library – cultural- commercial centre.

Prior to that there had been no public announcements since Monday June 13 when City Council voted to endorse a proposal by the RPL Board for a Cultural Centre to replace the Central Branch. The proposed Centre could include the Globe Theatre. See documents and agenda for City Council meeting. See LeaderPost article. See P3Canada website. City support in principle was needed for the RPL to submit an application to the federal public private partnerships fund (P3Canada) by the end of June. The proposal was pushed through City Council with less than a week for review or public comment.

At the City Council meeting the Masons made a presentation emphasizing the need for fuller discussion with them concerning what they want to do with their property. See Masonic Temple presentation See LeaderPost commentary The broadest concept for the Centre is the one that was posted on the Internet on April 22, 2011. See Prairie Dog article “Have A Look At Your New Library” with building illustrations.   See Surprisebrary Prairie Dog article. But the Library Board Chair has stated that this is a maximum vision of what could be on the site, but it is only one idea and other concepts have been developed.

Up until the April posting of the possible design by Nick Milkovich Architects, there had been no recent public information concerning the plans for Central Branch. The public had understood that discussions were still being held with library staff, stakeholders, potential community or public group occupants, and potential commercial partners for the large-scale mixed-use development envisioned by the Regina Public Library Board.

In the April interview the RPL Board chair said that the Milkovich illustration was not necessarily the chosen design and the Board will inform the public when design decisions have been made. See LeaderPost article “New library plan in early stages”.

A number of suggestions have been brought forward for what could be included in the site: the Globe Theatre, museums, office spaces, commercial and retail establishments, restaurants, hotels or condos, plus the potential for the City to have transit offices or public forum spaces.

This is still a concept design with many factors to be worked out. The RPL still has to consider a number of things: what land will actually be available, what funds will be available for land purchase and building, who the other partners will be which will determine how large the building can be or needs to be, and public response to the concept. It is still possible that the RPL could decide to refurbish the current Central Branch building. At City Council meeting in June 2011 the Masons emphasized that they had not offered their building and land for sale to the development, so this would affect the footprint of the Library Branch.

On January 4, 2012 the Library board’s chairperson stated at their Annual General Meeting that the RPL was negotiating with the Masons concerning the purchase of their building and the neighbouring parking lot. However the Masons had not publicly stated any intent of selling their property. On the part of the public, there was considerable public interest in the Masonic Temple as a heritage building. The Masons undertook a process of consultation with the Lodges that were partners in owning the Masonic Temple.

In May 2012 the Masons announced they were not going to sell their building and property.


Current Situation – Sept 2014

The RPL Board is revising its plans concerning the Central Library upgrade. Considerable interest has also been expressed by Regina residents and architects and heritage supporters from across the country in preserving the modernist Central Library building.

One alternative is to build up and over the current building. It is not known if this option has been considered by the RPL Board or the architects. The current building was designed to allow expansion onto the additional space on the west side of the building.

P3 Canada funding wasn’t an option for 2012, as was confirmed by the RPL at its June 2012 Board meeting, but may still be accessed in the future.

Funding for a major renovation or rebuilding remains a major consideration. A debenture, or bond, purchased by Regina residents would be one way to add to funds for a library development. The City of Regina has recently increased the amount of debt it is able to have, partly to fund a new stadium project, some waterworks infrastructure, and also to provide some funding towards upgrades to Central Library.

Public Input 

In November 2011 a new webpage concerning RPL Central Library became available at the RPL website http://www.reginalibrary.ca/cld/  A copy of the Feasibility Study done by architects in 2011 was posted to the website.

At its September and November meetings, when queried by the Friends of the Regina Public Library, the RPL Board has said that it plans to consult further with the public, with a survey and other consultation methods. No date has been publicly announced for these activities.

It will be important for the public to remain informed about the funding and design aspects of proposal, submit their views to the RPL Board and City Council, and participate fully in consultation processes.

Public input is critical regarding Central Branch as the development could significantly change the library building and the block bounded by Victoria Avenue, Lorne Street, 12th Avenue and Smith Street.

Contact the RPL to have your name placed on a list to be notified of future meetings. See updates from RPL Board.

Check in with this FRPL website and the FRPL FaceBook site for current information and join our e-mail list for pertinent updates. Let us know about libraries you have seen elsewhere and what you would like to see in an revitalization of Central Branch.

It is crucial for  the public to remain informed about the proposal, submit their views to the RPL Board and City Council, and participate fully in consultation processes.


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