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Council gives OK to LeBreton Flats location for new $168M library

Ottawa City Council has made its final choice for the new central library's location, approving the site at LeBreton flats, with one dissenting vote and one abstaining.

Wednesday’s decision will mean city staff will begin the process of selling off the current branch of the library, at Laurier and Metcalfe. Money from the sale will help fund the $168-million project.

Coun. Tim Tierney, chair of the library board, ended the meeting on a victorious note.

“After 20 years of dithering, we finally have a solid, workable plan, the support of our mayor and the unparalleled opportunity to partner with Library and Archives Canada,” he said. “What I’ve been hearing form the people is ‘get on with it’ and we want to see what this library could look like in the future.”

“We’re moving forward on something iconic to this city."

Mayor Jim Watson said he was looking forward to the next phase of the project: finding an architect and designing the 133,000-square-foot landmark building.

Coun. Catherine McKenney, who had been very vocal in her criticism of the Lebreton Flats location, 557 Wellington Street, said the loss of the current central branch will create a “hole” in the Centretown community.

“This will be a loss of a branch library in the densest part of the city, where walking is the dominant mode of travel and 81 per cent of current main branch users walk to the library," she said.

City staff have been directed to create a transition plan that will ensure downtown residents still have convenient access to the system.

Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum criticized the location for focusing on westward expansion instead of the current core. He left council chambers during the vote in order to abstain.

source: Haley Ritchie, Ottawa Business Journal, 9 February 2017