A brand-new multi-million-dollar home for Sudbury's past could be in the city's future.

The city is studying the possibility of a building a downtown complex housing a historical museum, archives and the main branch of the library.

This comes at a time when several big projects are planned for downtown Sudbury — including an art gallery and a new 5,000 seat arena.

Citizens Services director Ron Henderson said he hopes the public debate on these ideas doesn't pit them against each other.

"It's not one against the other. I think a dynamic, comprehensive city has to offer the whole package,” he said.

Ron Henderson

The city's Ron Henderson speaks for the working group looking to house the Art Gallery of Sudbury and the Greater Sudbury Public Library under one roof. (Erik White/CBC)

“I don't see this library complex as competing against the arena, I think it's more complimenting."

The Mackenzie Street Library and the Sudbury Arena were both approved by referendums in 1949 and built in the years following.

The thought of replacing the aging MacKenzie Street library has been on the city's agenda for years.

"Making a case for a cultural institution in any city at any time is always tough,” Henderson said.

But he added this is the time to build a modern library, that will help tells the city's story — "a beacon of what a city is all about.”

“I think a strong library system makes a statement about Sudbury,” he said.

Financially feasible?

The study will determine the where and the how much, but the price tag will be in the millions.

The city's library board has awarded the contract to conduct the study to Sudbury-based architects Yallowega Belanger. It will cost the city $38,500.

City councillor Joe Cimino voted no at Wednesday's board meeting to award the contract to a consultant. He said he thinks the idea is worth looking into, but wishes it was city staff and not a consultant doing the work.

"I would like to think that there's capacity within the city staff to do some of the work that we're asking this consultant to do," he said.

Cimino said a new policy, which look at the hiring of consultants and other outside purchases, will be discussed by Sudbury city council in the next few weeks. 

Cimino added he sees no harm in looking at a new library, but hard money questions will have to be answered

"Something's got to be financially feasible,” he said. “It's got to be respecting the ratepayer of the community, so I think a lot of work's going to be done."

That work will eventually lead to this idea being debated by city council, sometime later this year.