wdr-620-art-gallery-credit-downtownbia

City buys art gallery and will move library there, creating a 'cultural hub.' (Downtown BIA)

The Windsor Public Library will move into the Art Gallery of Windsor after council unanimously approved the purchase of the gallery during an in-camera meeting Thursday.

Council and the library and art gallery boards quickly approved the surprise move.

The plan is to have books and art share the building on Riverside Drive. The library will be housed on the main floor; the gallery will maintain exhibits on the second and third floors.

Mayor Eddie Francis is excited about what's taking shape.

"Having these combined uses in one place creates a very important cluster that will attract more people, give more people a variety of things to do when they are there in the building," Francis said.

"We think there's real pluses in terms of synergies between the two organizations, the programs that we'll offer," library CEO Barry Holmes said.

Holmes said partnerships are a trend for libraries these days.

Money matters

Francis say transferring the art gallery's ownership to the city will save taxpayers money in the long run.The gallery will no longer receive an annual grant of $450,000 from the city. And, the library's operating costs should fall by approximately $300,000.

Library chair and Coun. Al Maghnieh said the move signifies the start of a downtown cultural hub.

"A commitment was made here by the Windsor Public Library or the City of Windsor that we would always be part of the exciting cultural hub that is happening," he said. "We'll continue to be there. We'll continue to have the footscape that we have in the downtown core."

The move also excites Catherine Mastin, the gallery's director.

"From the art gallery's perspective, we're really excited to seeing the city's cultural master plan moving forward," she said.

The move also means the new aquatic complex next door will be a stand-alone building and not a shared, multi-use facility.

The original plan called for the library and aquatics facility to be housed under one roof.

Tenders for that project close next week.

The city estimated the aquatics centre would cost $67 million to build, but the bids are now expected to come in well below that.