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RPL scales back on proposed size of main branch, seeks funding from city

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The Regina Public Library (RPL) is scaling back on the proposed size of a new main branch downtown because of escalating construction costs.

During a meeting on Tuesday, the library board of directors voted in favour of a motion to request help from city council for the revised project.

The board set a $125 million target for construction of a new central branch building but that was before the pandemic. Now costs are up so the board is proposing something 20 per cent smaller in order to stick to budget.

“A recognition of changing costs through a period of COVID and an understanding that that amount of space is still large enough for us to achieve the library service goals in downtown,” RPL’s CEO Jeff Barber said.

It will take a combination of government funding, donations and a 27.5 per cent library mill rate increase phased in over five years to cover construction costs. The library board will now approach city council for its commitment.

“The recommendation coming to the board is that the library proceed with an ask of city council for the funding required as I outlined, the mill rate and the debt to allow this project to continue,” Barber said.

Not everyone is convinced that the expenditure is necessary, including some library users.

“The building itself is a heritage building and I think Regina is too quick to tear down its heritage buildings and I think we need to value this building and cherish it and build on it,” Donna Holmes said.

It will take until 2030 to complete construction of a new library. That’s longer than mechanical systems are expected to last in the current structure. Essential upgrades are being planned.

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