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Ottawa in talks with Library and Archives on central library

Few details on partnership, but councillor calls it a 'defining moment' for Ottawa.

The City of Ottawa could partner with Library and Archives Canada to build a new main branch.

metro file photo

The City of Ottawa could partner with Library and Archives Canada to build a new main branch.

The City of Ottawa is looking to partner up with Library and Archives Canada to rebuild a new downtown library.

Coun. Tim Tierney, who chairs the library board, announced the news during a meeting on Tuesday evening. He would not divulge details on the possible partnership, so it’s still unclear whether the two libraries would share space, exhibits or costs.

But Tierney called this latest news a “defining moment.”

“We are actually very giddy about what it could look like,” he said.  

The site and design of the new downtown library have yet to be worked out. The latest cost estimate is $86 million, but Tierney said this partnership could bode well for city taxpayers.

Library and Archives Canada approached the city about the partnership during the request for expression of interest (REOI) process.

Just because the federal government is partnering with the city does not mean the city is turning away from a P3 funding model, said Tierney.

The site at 557 Wellington St. has been cited as a possible location for the new library.

Emilie Taman – who ran for the federal New Democrats in Vanier last year – spoke on behalf of library citizens’ group Bookmark the Core. She’s worried the LeBreton Flats site is a “done deal” and is calling for more transparency in the library process, including more public consultation.

“Done deals are the antithesis of open public processes,” she said.

Tierney said the library board is “in the dark” about the LeBreton Flats proposals and that it’s still too soon for another consultation.

The library project is expected to break ground in 2018. Card carriers will start signing out books in 2020.

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