Breezy Breakfast Radio Hour

Episode 48: The Library and the Baker Street Saga

June 15, 2021

Hi, Tanya Gevaert here!

While reading about the history of the Guelph Public Library, I came upon the following: “A movement had been put forward to erect a separate building at the turn of the century but had come close to a standstill because of lack of funds and a suitable location. The mayor, Mr. John Kennedy and the Council of 1902 donated part of the park which formed Nelson Crescent and in the spite of the objections of the citizens over this use of park lands for a building, the building of the new Library commenced.”

Lack of Funds? Trouble finding a suitable location? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Talk of a new main public library started in 1995. The proposal to buy the Post Office was squashed in 2005. The Chief Librarian noted that the Baker Street lot offered the city an opportunity to build a library for the 21 st century while invigorating downtown.

Three preliminary concepts for the Baker Street parking lot were presented to Council in 2008; however, the new library was not included in the 2010 capital budget. In March 2012, a report recommended that a 90,000 square foot 21 st century facility be built with all the typical library components, along with community meeting spaces, green space, and state-of-the-art Archives. (Sound familiar?)

Fast-forward to 2021. Guelph has an opportunity to work with Windmill developers, a company committed to erecting zero ecological footprint buildings. Their mixed-use projects are LEED Platinum certified; their motto is “People + Planet + Prosperity.” The perfect partner for a “green” city.

Their vision of the Baker District includes the new Main Library, residential and mixed-use buildings, and open public space.

It’s been a long and winding road, and we’ve arrived at the same place as we did in 2008. The time has come for Guelph to make a firm commitment to revitalize the downtown core with the new Main Library as a solid anchor.

On June 11, our guests were Steve Kraft (CEO of GPL), Scott Butler (Chair of the GPL Board), and Stephanie Guy (Project Manager, City of Guelph). We heard about the new Main Library and the Baker District Redevelopment. It was the perfect way to get prepared for the Council Report and Presentation on July 21.


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