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City report outlines multi-million-dollar options to repair West Kildonan Library

A report at Winnipeg City Hall says repairs at West Kildonan Library will cost millions of dollars, without money earmarked to make the necessary changes.

Upgrades needed include a new elevator to improve accessibility, a new reading garden and literacy playground.

Christine Frig has been coming to the West Kildonan Library for most of her life.

She still brings her daughter to the library, a place she says holds a big piece of her heart.

“A lot of hours spent here, a lot of good memories, a lot of learning and growing and bettering myself,” she told CTV News Winnipeg.

Following pushback, including rallies from the public two years ago, city council decided against plans to close down the library and move it to Garden City.

But the building is old and needs millions of dollars worth of upgrades. A new feasibility study released at city hall lists three potential options with cost estimates.

The first comes with a $6.3 million price tag to address code, safety and critical accessibility issues.

Option two would cost $7.5 million. It includes an addition for a more accessible elevator, a new service desk, tutorial rooms, and literacy playground.

The third and most expensive would run the city $10.7 million. That would see a 24,000 square-foot expansion for programming, the elevator, moving the children’s area to the main floor, plus a new reading garden, meeting room and computer area.

“Everybody has a to-do list, whether it’s their house or their apartment of what they want to do, need to do and must do, and so this gives us a path,” said Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort-Rouge East Fort Garry).

The report does not outline recommendations for a funding source for the upgrades, unlike a new library planned for northwest Winnipeg, which was listed in the recent budget.

“There’s a lot of demand for library service there where there’s not currently one, so that’s my priority,” said Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham.

Area councillor Ross Eadie, who got the ball rolling on the library’s feasibility study, said now that there are cost estimates for upgrades, he wants to settle on an option and push other levels of government for help.

“Right now, it’s at its end of life. If there’s any disasters, it would have to close,” he said.

The West Kildonan Library was given heritage protection from the city’s property committee in January 2023.

If council does vote for one of the options and finds the money, design work would need to be done to firm up costs even more, so the estimates could still change.

Following that, more detailed design and construction plans would need to be hammered out.

Still, Harriet Zaidman with Friends of West Kildonan Library, the group that rallied to save the library, says it’s worth preserving.

“The library is a mainstay of the community. It’s been here since 1967. It is very busy.”

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