Developers, contractors and other firms have suggested nine downtown sites where the Ottawa Public Library could build a new central branch, in a process that may or may not dovetail with the re-development of LeBreton Flats.

A report that was to go to the library's board Tuesday, at a meeting that has now been postponed, sums up the results of confidential meetings the library held last fall.

A dozen private sector groups and two public sector ones, including Library and Archives Canada, met with the Ottawa Public Library.

They put nine potential sites on the table, in all.

5 proposals west of Bronson

The addresses of those sites have not been made public, but five were west of Bronson Avenue, two were downtown between Bronson and Elgin, and two were east of the Rideau Canal.

The library also asked the groups to weigh in on its preferred site at 557 Wellington St., beside the western outlet of the light-rail tunnel. 

Almost all who answered the library's call for expressions of interest said that site — or any site near the future Pimisi light-rail station on Booth Street — would be "an excellent location for a landmark Central Library."

Coun. Tim Tierney, who chairs the library's board, could not say whether the sites at Albert and Booth streets laid out last month in two competing proposals for LeBreton Flats are among the nine proposals.

As an elected official, he's not privy to those confidential meetings, he said.

But Tierney underscored that the city's process for building a new central library is separate from the National Capital Commission's LeBreton re-development.

"We want shovels in the ground by the second quarter of 2018," said Tierney. "We think this is a major visionary project in our city and if people can't accommodate that, I'm sorry but it's not going to work with us."

Municipal library still analyzing partnership with national counterpart

Before it moves on to the next procurement step, however, the Ottawa Public Library must decide whether to expand its new building project to incorporate Library and Archives Canada.

The municipal library's CEO, Danielle McDonald, and the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Guy Berthiaume, agreed in January to study the possibility of a joint facility where Library and Archives Canada could relocate some of its public operations.

When it held its confidential meetings last fall, the Ottawa Public Library didn't know a partnership with Library and Archives was a possibility.

The size and location of a future library site, as well as the financial studies, would need to be modified if the federal institution is on board.

"This is a very good thing. We couldn't have asked for a better gift than this," said Tierney. "If this does work out obviously the 132,000 square feet will have to be upwards of 200,000 square feet."

Tierney said he's confident that by March the two parties will have figured out whether they have enough in common to move ahead together.

Also by March, the library will settle on criteria for choosing a site for a new central library so it can put out a request for qualifications, followed by a request for proposals, likely by the fall.