Saskatoon

Saskatoon Public Library purchases large section of land on 2nd Avenue N. for new central branch

Saskatoon's library has purchased three lots in the city's downtown for a new central library branch.

Library finalized purchase in February, land valued at $9 million

The Saskatoon Public Library has purchased three lots on Second Avenue N. for its new central library branch. (Google Maps)

Saskatoon's library has purchased three lots in the city's downtown for a new central library branch.

As first reported by the Saskatoon StarPhoenix — and confirmed by a property search on Information Services Corporation (ISC), the province's official property registrar — the library purchased three lots on Second Avenue N., between 24th Street and 25th Street.

According to ISC, the three parcels are valued at a total of $9 million. 

The property currently houses a strip mall, which features an SLGA liquor store, and a parking lot that used to be the site of the Patricia Hotel.

The library confirmed Monday that the land was purchased for the new branch and said negotiations took place in the fall and were finalized in February. Money was drawn from the new central library reserve fund.

Branch search

The Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) has been searching for a location for a new downtown library branch for more than a year.

"We are excited to have that in place," said SPL board chair Brett Bradshaw. 

Bradshaw acknowledged the parcel of land was fairly large. She said part of that will be to accommodate more green space, something that came up during community consultations.

"This allows us to have space inside the office for green space but also some really important green space outside of the library as well."

The board hopes to have an architect in place in the fall.

In November, councillors voted 6-5 to loan the library $67.5 million, which was $20 million less than the library had asked for.

SPL had asked for $152.9 million in capital funding, including an $87.5 million loan that would be repaid from the library levy collected in connection with municipal taxes.

At the time, former library board chair Lisa Erickson said the $20 million cut was a "significant portion of the project" and couldn't guarantee that all aspects of the plan would survive.

Councillors said they were concerned they were being asked to support a building project that hadn't been designed yet.

Bradshaw said the reduction in money would mean a smaller building than the 149,000-square-foot structure that had initially been proposed.

The library board said it wanted green space in the library and an indoor children's playground.

At the time, Erickson said the current Frances Morrison Central Library didn't have a sprinkler system and had a severe shortage of public washrooms.

The library hoped to raise $15 million toward the project.

An initial project design said that six more staffers would be needed at the new library.

The board said it would be providing more information once the COVID-19 situation was resolved.

The maximum total capital budget for the new library at $132.9 million.

The board said it is still aiming to have the project built by 2026.

With files from Guy Quenneville, Alicia Bridges

now