Residents of Garden City and West Kildonan held a rally to reject the city's plan of relocating and remodelling the West Kildonan Public Library Tuesday at noon.
Parents, teachers, students, and locals stood outside in chilly weather to stand against Winnipeg City Council's plan to move the public library to the shopping mall in Garden City.
Back on May 9, a city report was released indicating that the West Kildonan Public Library will be transferring from its current location on Jefferson Avenue to the Garden City Shopping Centre on McPhillips Street.
The relocation was suggested because the building is 55-years-old and needs repairs that will better accommodate the needs of the public.
Co-founders of Friends of West Kildonan Library, Daniel Guenther and Evan Krosney hosted the rally and allowed those who oppose the relocation to speak on the issue.
Beverly Mason, a local parent and frequent library visitor, remembers when she went to the library with her mother.
"I have fond memories of coming here with my mother on a weekly basis, going downstairs to the children's department looking for favourite authors, browsing for new books and then going back into the little room to read some books together before we left."
Harriet Zaidman, a local children's and freelance writer and former librarian at Kildonan West Library, spoke on the purpose of a library.
"The purpose of a library is to raise you up. It's to elevate you. It's to provide education, it's to provide intellectual stimulation, it's to provide culture, and it's to provide it to everyone free and the institution, the building of the library, for a time of memorial," says Zaidman. "This city spends among the lowest amount on books and subscriptions and other materials that are needed. Our staff are not paid well, they're having trouble getting library staff. The programming here has dropped off completely. If you have $6 million to hand over for rent, you should invest it in the services that the public needs."
If the relocation is approved the total lease commitment over the initial 10-year term is $2,244,300.00 plus operating costs and another $2 million towards a one-time leasehold improvement contribution. With this plan, the City of Winnipeg hopes to create a new and modern library for the public to use.
However, much of the public does not agree that the relocation will provide the public with easy access to the library. By moving to the Garden City Shopping Centre, children and other library users would have to travel a farther distance and can easily become discouraged by the extra travel time.
Greg McFarlane, Seven Oaks School Trustee for Ward II and Chair of Seven Oaks School Division, says, "our board of trustees stands firmly in opposition to the city's proposal and plans to close this vital community resource and replace it with a second-class library wedged in a windowless room at the Garden City Shopping Centre."
Most library users say they have personal connections to the building and would be distraught if it were to be taken down.
"With several schools and childcare centres within walking distance, as has already been properly expressed already, it would leave a large void if this is removed from this location," said Phil Dembicki, President of CUPE 500 Community Services Unit.
"Libraries are the heart and soul, and most importantly, the future of our communities."
There will be an Executive Policy Committee meeting tomorrow, May 18, at 9:30 a.m, where further discussion on the lease project will take place.