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Major milestone achieved as Ottawa Public Library Board approves recommendations for new Ottawa Central Library

Tonight, the Ottawa Public Library Board approved staff recommendations for the new iconic Ottawa Central Library (OCL) in the nation’s capital. The building is to be built as a joint facility with Library and Archives Canada (LAC) at 557 Wellington Street, steps from the intersection of Albert St. and Bronson Ave. The recommendations will go to Ottawa City Council for approval on February 8, 2017.
Today’s decision moves us one step closer to bringing the Ottawa Central Library to life. Thank you for your support and interest as we now look to obtain Ottawa City Council’s approval, and move from planning to design.

An expert site evaluation committee, overseen by a Fairness Commissioner, evaluated 12 potential sites against criteria developed with public input. The City-owned site at 557 Wellington Street ranked first at all stages of the evaluation process.

After undertaking Canada’s most robust process to select a public library location, we now know we have the best site. At the western edge of the core, this location meets all of the criteria to allow us to build an accessible iconic central library in the heart of the nation’s capital. And, it’s the most affordable too, costing between $10 and $30 million less than the other options.

At the meeting, the Board heard from City experts who highlighted the planning context for the City:

  • Light Rail Transit will start in 2018, which will change how we move throughout the City.
  • More than 80% of growth in the Central Area will be in the west part of downtown (Lebreton Flats, Zibi, etc.)
  • When the library opens in 2022, access to the recommended site will be significantly different than it is today:
    • The transit buses will no longer be operating through the Albert / Slater corridor
    • With the buses removed, the multi-use pathways will be reconfigured to allow for improved access by foot, bike, and wheel.
    • Albert St. will be reconfigured to be more pedestrian friendly as part of the City of Ottawa’s Downtown Moves initiative.

In addition, the Board received the results of a public survey conducted by Nanos Research in January 2017, which showed that there is city-wide support for the joint facility with Library and Archives Canada, the location, and the proposed spaces and uses.

Twenty-one public delegations spoke at the Board meeting on various aspects of the recommended decisions on the OCL project.

The City-funded portion of the new 216,000 gross square feet joint facility is estimated to be $99 million; the Government of Canada would assume the balance of the $168 million facility. The Board further approved the recommendation that the facility be built using a design-bid-build procurement process in order to ensure maximum control over its design.

Ottawa City Council will make the final decisions in principle on February 8, 2017.

The Government of Canada will make a decision regarding Library and Archives Canada’s participation in the joint facility in spring 2017.

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