In response to Yann Martel’s opinion piece last week on why replacing Saskatoon’s central library is essential, I am offering my perspective as a planner.
I believe Martel glazed over the realities of construction for this vast building project.
The current library main branch is not as rundown as he implies. I don’t doubt the library board bloated the proposed renovation numbers ($57 million) to help make their case for a brand new building.
The existing Francis Morrison Central Library building could have been renovated for an improved experience if there had been proper facilities management and planning.
I am concerned that the library board purchased a longstanding gas station site for its new downtown location without an environmental report or a costed remediation plan first.
The final library design shows the need to remove one driving lane on Second Avenue for parking. Perhaps Mayor Clark will support this, but what about the rest of city council?
I believe in libraries, including digital content (which does not need a building structure to serve the citizens). Bring the library to the people like the bookmobile always did where smaller library branches were not established.
Smaller joint-use libraries spread further around the city would better serve the residents, so people have direct access closer to their daily lives.
Instead of actually serving our population where they live, Martel tries to sell this single development as if it will be the centre of all things to all people.
This one vanity project will limit joint use library development in many growing areas of Saskatoon for decades to come.
It should be noted that Martel invested $17,000 in Mayor Clark’s political career through campaign donations. I feel his past actions typifies the motto “affluence equals influence.”
Martel forgot to mention a host of other books that the library offers such as ones on land development and reclamation. Perhaps a few on insolvency and public debt. Literally a host of titles that the library board (including the mayor) should have read before claiming to be experts in this.
Next time, please use the new Ottawa library — which ballooned in cost to nearly twice its original budget — as the shining example of what has been dreamed up here.
The Saskatoon taxpayer is going to pay for this wasteful library for many decades to come, so it certainly isn’t free!
Cary Tarasoff is a Saskatoon planner with a background in construction and design who ran for mayor in the 2020 municipal election.
Yann Martel: Replacing Saskatoon’s decrepit downtown library no luxury
Phil Tank: Saskatoon central library design great, but concerns linger
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