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Regina Public Library broadens search for central library sites

The Regina Public Library says it is inviting property developers to provide information about potential partnerships and locations for the new central library building. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)
The Regina Public Library says it is inviting property developers to provide information about potential partnerships and locations for the new central library building. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)

It's possible the new central library in Regina could be rebuilt in a different location, after the original building is demolished.

Back in September 2022, the Regina Public Library (RPL) board voted to build a new library "with a preference for the current location," but now the board is broadening its options and seeking information from developers for other potential locations.

A new central library is one of the catalyst committee projects meant to reshape Regina's downtown core. Some of the other projects include a new arena, a non-vehicular trail and an aquatic centre.

According to a news release from the RPL, the original site location, across from Victoria Park on 12th Avenue, has not been ruled out.

Jeff Barber, RPL's director and CEO, said the board's latest move is not a change of heart.

"This is actually not a change but a next step," Barber said.

"We've done some of the analysis work, but now we need to see what's really out there."

The RPL posted an Expression of Interest (EOI) on SaskTenders to gauge and seek interest from potential "private partners" suitable for the new central library.

"We're looking at the market and talking to developers to say, 'So what are you working on? What do you have in mind? What do you think could work?' "

Regina Public Library director and CEO Jeff Barber says the library plans to stay the course to rebuild the library rather than refurbish.
Regina Public Library director and CEO Jeff Barber says the library plans to stay the course to rebuild the library rather than refurbish.

Jeff Barber, the director and CEO of Regina Public Library, speaks inside the central library in the city's downtown. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

The EOI states the central library would need a space of 100,000 to 155,000 square feet and that other tenants or occupants would need to "align with RPL's values."

Joanne Havelock, the chair of Friends of the Regina Public Library, said she believes the library shouldn't get involved with private partners.

"They say they want the library to be ownership of its own space or owner of its own space, which is good, but it would still be part of some larger corporate consortium," said Havelock.

Havelock said the library should be renovated or built completely with city money, and not corporate money.

What happens to the old lot?

According to Barber, RPL owns the lot where the central library is located, but he's not sure what would happen to the land if the library were to build in a new location permanently.

"In terms of this land and this building, those decisions aren't made yet because we really, we don't know if we're going to be here or not," said Barber.

Barber said there aren't any locations the board is looking at in particular, although it has to be in a certain downtown perimeter.

"The library does still need a location downtown and not just anywhere downtown. It has to be, you know, a location downtown that works for a central library and the services we provide."

Tearing down and erecting a new central library was quoted by RPL in 2020 to cost about $125 million, but Barber said it's possible that could change as that previous number was an early estimate.

In the meantime, the library board plans for the central branch to relocate temporarily in the fall, then the old building will be demolished.

Barber said if new locations are identified, public consultations will be held.