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New library plans take step forward with development of business plan

Will be presented to council in January

Plans for a new library main branch will take a serious step forward over the next four months with the creation of a business plan for a new library.

The Guelph Public Library board has hired consulting firm KPMG to help develop the business plan, the next step in getting a new library included in the redevelopment of the Baker Street parking lot.

Request for proposals for that massive project are going out in October and will include some loose parameters for a new library, but with the understanding that a new library is part of the Baker Street plans.

The business plan will include everything from proposed size, design needs, forecasting demand over the next 15 years, programming, amenities and open space.

It will also look at the possibility of adding a second building at the current main branch, building a new library on the existing site or even expanding and remodelling the existing main library.

The process started in early September.

KPMG’s Bruce Peever made a presentation to Guelph City Council on Monday night.

The business plan will not get into detailed pricing – that will come at the design stage – but “we will be giving you a pricing range,” Peever told council.

“We have to consider City Council to be the banker,” Peever said in a back and forth with councillor Phil Allt.

“We’re the banker, not the designer?” Allt said.

“Yes,” Peever said.

Mayor Cam Guthrie praised the library board, city staff and council for taking a “get it right, not rushed,” approach.

The Mayor also stated that “both the banker and the investor are the taxpayers of Guelph.”

The library business plan is expected to be delivered to council in January.

The development of the business plan will include public input via a town hall meeting, council heard.

Councillor Cathy Downer brought up the social benefits of a library and if the business plan would address that.

“Are you going to be able to quantify social benefits of a public library?” she asked Peever.

He replied that the business plan would be focusing more on the numbers.

“Trying to get into quantifying social benefit isn’t going to get very far,” Peever said.

Library CEO Steve Kraft would be gathering some research on the social benefits of libraries to be part of the eventual case presented to council.