The public was invited to two duplicate open houses on Wednesday for a presentation on the near-final design of the north end of the Baker District Redevelopment — including a new library — and were encouraged to view models of the architecture.
The sessions were held at the River Run Centre and were largely focused on the new main branch of the Guelph Public Library and an urban square designed for the front of it. The public ask questions and give their feedback.
City officials gave an overview of how the project got this point since planning began in 2007, before diving into the latest iterations of the architectural layout of the downtown development.
Presenters noted two prior meetings in January and in 2018 where they interacted and engaged with the public, using their feedback to come up with the design as it sits currently.
While most of the those that attended the 2 p.m. open house seemed to favour the direction the project was headed, concerns were raised over piece of provincial legislation that could impact its future.
The business development and enterprise manager for the city, Helen Loftin, addressed the contentious Bill 108 being considered by Queen’s Park — a piece of legislation that could see developers paying less for what they build.
Loftin said that as soon as the city understands the bill’s impacts, they will communicate it to the public, but for now the project “will go full steam ahead”.
The close-to-final design includes a flour-floor space for the library and an urban square that opens on to Wyndham St. that could either feature a a fountain — or water-related landmark — or be an open green space.
The library will feature a several hundred seat auditorium, outdoor balcony spaces, public meeting rooms, a maker space and book sections, including an archive on the fourth floor.
The public were asked to mark an answer for three questions: “Does the library provide the types of services you expect from a central library?”, “does the urban square provide the types of experiences you expect from a civic space?” and “does the sustainability plan reflect your green goals and ambitions for Baker District?”
Staff from the library, the developer — Diamond Schmitt — and the city were on hand to interact with the public as they took a look at the physical models on display inside the
“We’re not ready to sign off on it just yet, but we’re getting there,” the Guelph Public Library’s chief executive officer, Steven Kraft told The Guelph Post.
“There’s still challenges because we have one idea and the architect might have another,” Kraft explained, adding that “we’ll come together and, eventually we’ll solve it” in time for a more final design come fall.
There are two duplicate open houses being held at the River Run Centre at 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 pm. to 9 p.m. — with the first session in the Co-operators Hall and the second in the Canada Company Hall.
The attendance at the 2 p.m. open house filled the Co-operators Hall seats. Also present was Couns. James Gordon and Dominique O’Rourke.