The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) board has approved the initiation of the process that will be used to determine the best site for Ottawa’s new flagship Central Library, either as a standalone building or in a potential partnership with Library and Archives Canada (LAC).
The selection process, which will result in a site announcement by the end of the year, includes the development of an inventory of potential sites in Ottawa’s Central Area, a detailed listing of site criteria developed with public input, and an analysis of those sites against the criteria.
In June 2015, the Board unanimously approved the Central Area as the geographic location for the Ottawa Central Library. The boundaries of this area include: the Ottawa River to the North; Wellington/Albert/Gloucester/Lisgar to the South; King Edward to the East; and, the Trillium Line (Bayview Station) to the West.
The City of Ottawa’s Real Estate Partnerships and Development Office (REPDO) will manage the process under the direction of the Ottawa Public Library CEO, with the support of third-party process expertise, including a Fairness Commissioner.
Ottawa residents will have an opportunity to help shape the criteria that will be used to evaluate the potential sites. A public consultation meeting will be held in May, followed by online input. Subject to public input and final OPL Board approval, the criteria are likely to include items such as size area, access, and proximity to light rail. It will be based on best practices (library and technical expertise), new and previous public input, as well as demographic planning data and studies.
“Ottawa is on the cusp of real transformation. We have momentum. City-building initiatives like LRT, the new Arts Court, the Innovation Centre, and now the Ottawa Central Library – these are all building blocks of a great, world-class city,” said Tim Tierney, chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board, and Councillor for Beacon Hill – Cyrville. “We can’t wait to hear from Ottawans about what they consider to be most important when choosing where to build this new landmark building.”
Seven public delegations were at the Board meeting on April 12 to express their thoughts on various components of the Central Library Development project update.
“The Ottawa Central Library will play a number of roles in this community,” said OPL CEO Danielle McDonald. “We want to ensure that where we build not only benefits our current and future customers, but that the Ottawa Central Library can become an innovative and iconic beacon for residents and visitors in the heart of the National Capital.”
Following public input, the draft evaluation criteria will be brought to the library board for approval in July. Once approved, the potential sites in the inventory will be evaluated and analyzed. This will result in a short-listing of viable sites for consideration as a recommended site. A final determination on the location for the Ottawa Central Library will be made public before the end of the calendar year, as part of a complete decision package that includes the potential partnership, site selection, project delivery method, and financial framework. No sites have been determined at this time.
In addition to helping craft the criteria for where to build, the public will have another opportunity to help the OPL finalize its plans for what to build. Community consultations on the functional uses of the building – what goes where within the Ottawa Central Library – will take place in June. Information will be made available shortly.
Ground-breaking for the Ottawa Central Library is expected in the spring of 2018 with official opening of a new iconic library in 2020.