Winnipeg plans to close the book on 55-year-old West Kildonan Library

The City of Winnipeg is preparing to close the book on the first stand-alone home of the West Kildonan Library.

A new report to council’s property committee recommends moving the 55-year-old library — which predates the amalgamation of Winnipeg with the old City of West Kildonan — into a 15,000-square-foot space in Garden City Shopping Centre.

The move would take the library branch full circle from its original home in a strip mall. The West Kildonan Library originally opened in 1962 in the Kildonan Shopping Centre on Main Street at Jefferson Avenue, according to the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation.

The branch was moved into Garden City Collegiate until the current 14,000-square-foot building was erected on Jefferson Avenue in 1967.

The city has been planning to replace that structure since 2012, when a new facility was envisioned to provide more parking for library visitors.

In 2020, the cost of building a new library led the city to look for an existing city-owned structure to renovate instead.

When no building fit the bill in either the Old Kildonan or Mynarski wards, city property managers issued an expression-of-interest document to property owners interested in hosting the branch.

The city set aside $3.7 million in the 2022 budget for the new library project.

According to the report to council, the city received two proposals and selected the Garden City mall as the preferred option.

Pending council approval, the city would spend up to $2 million renovating space in the mall’s northern side, near the Seafood City grocery store.

Rent for the space would be $217,000 a year for the first five years and $232,000 for the remaining five years of the lease.

The city may be able to sell the old West Kildonan Library building for about $1 million, the report said.

City property managers concluded it will be cheaper for the city to renovate the Garden City space and pay rent than to buy land and build new.

The property committee will consider the deal on May 9. It will then head to council’s executive policy committee and eventually council as a whole.