Have you heard? The Meaford Public Library is moving!

Meaford Council has approved a project to convert the old Foodland building at the corner of Sykes and Trowbridge into an updated and fully accessible Library. Here you can find out some background on this project, how much it will cost, the timeline for completion, and how you can get involved.

Donate Now

You can donate now through the Friends of the Meaford Library to support this project! Donations over $20 will receive a tax receipt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Meaford need a library?
Under legislation, the Municipality of Meaford must provide library services for its citizens. The Public Libraries Act mandates the provision of equal and universal access to information by establishing free public library services for all. The Meaford Public Library was established by By-Law in 1926. As of December 31, 2016 the Meaford Public Library (MPL) had 4,037 active members but is pleased to serve all residents and tourists as we would like to see this number grow.
Why not just keep the one we have? 
By 2025, the current building must meet accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The 2014 Space Needs Analysis Report completed by Lundholm Associates estimated the cost for making the current building accessible at over $2.5 million dollars and the building would be grossly undersized. An addition to the existing facility to meet the Administration of Rural and Urban Public Libraries of Ontario guidelines would cost $4,936,340. These ideas were deemed unfeasible.
Why are all these decisions being made so quickly? 
It may seem that way. Just as at the end of a race the runners finish quickly, we often forget how long they have been running. This process was not a sprint, in fact even a marathon might be too short a time line. The review of the current Library as a viable option began with the Lundholm Study in 2014. More recently, several options have been looked at and were also found to be inappropriate - mostly for financial reasons. This is the one that Council feels is best for the Municipality.
Why didn't Council look at other locations?

Council and staff investigated many locations over a period of several years before choosing the former Foodland building. Here are some of the details of the locations that were investigated:

Market Square

As part of the Lundholm study a concept was created to develop a two story building on the Market Square properties. Appendix 4 is provided which outlines the concept. The major drawbacks to this option was the need to relocate the Midas Mart, the reduced parking that would have occurred due to the building footprint and the overall cost to construct given it would have had to “fit” within the heritage district look and feel.

Harbour Lands

Based on the design criteria of a fully accessible single story building, staff reviewed the potential of constructing a new facility on municipal lands at the Harbour. Given the need to significantly upgrade site servicing, develop parking, manage potential soil contaminants and the construction cost estimated at $6.5M (2013 dollars) this was not seen as a viable option to pursue.

Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre

In 2015 staff completed an internal review of retrofitting the small and large hall of the Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre into library space. Although this option would have provided a municipal complex environment with the arena, the available floor space of 5,300 square feet was not large enough to accommodate the needs and an addition to the side of the facility was not manageable due to setback constraints with the neighbouring properties.

Administration Office

The Municipality engaged LGA Architectural Partners (LGA) in 2016 to complete an analysis of the existing Library facility and the Administration Office. As part of the project, LGA reviewed two options which would join the facilities to create the expanded space necessary for the library. Based on the costing estimate to convert the space and join the buildings, along with having to relocate the Administrative staff, this was not seen as a viable option to pursue.

390 Sykes Street

LGA was next tasked with reviewing possible options for renovation and expansion of the current OPP office at 390 Sykes Street. Based on the costing estimate to convert the space, construct an addition along with having to relocate the OPP this was not seen as a viable option to pursue.

Nelson Street Ground Level redevelopment (former Canadian Tire site)

The developer enquired about the Municipality acting as an anchor tenant within the redeveloped property, however due to the high lease costs because of the prime location the long term expense made the opportunity unaffordable.

Scott Clay Administrative Office

Although the property owner was willing to renovate to suit, the facility was a lease only and contained more than 16,000 square feet on two levels.

Trowbridge Street redevelopment (laundromat strip mall)

The Municipality enquired about acting as an anchor tenant within the redeveloped property however due to the high lease costs being proposed by the landlord the long term expense without any chance of ownership made the opportunity unaffordable.

Collingwood Street redevelopment

The Municipality enquired about acting as an anchor owner within the redeveloped property on the ground floor. Given this property was proposed as a Condominium development the ability to own versus lease was extremely appealing. The existing developer at the time ceased to move forward with the project and as such the municipality had to move on to other options.

Georgian Bay Secondary School (now GBCS)

Staff and the Library Board toured the facility twice with the plan of leasing, over a ten year period, underutilized space in the facility. Plans were moving ahead to the point where a floor plan was being contemplated, however the School Board made the decision to start a consolidation process thereby using the excess space.

Meaford Community School

Staff reviewed the purchase option of this property prior to it being made available for public sale. The Municipality could not find suitable use for the facility given the overall space was more than 30,000 square feet. More importantly the Blue Water District School Board had a facility report completed which illustrated the requirement for more than $8M to be invested over a 10 year period to rehabilitate the facility.

What will this do to our taxes?
The final cost of the library is $5.5 million but that is not what the tax payer will pay. This project is eligible to use development charges and parkland dedication funding. The net cost to the tax payer will be approximately $3 million. This amount includes furniture, fixtures and equipment. A recent fundraising initiative by the Friends of the Meaford Library will help to bring those costs down.
Why should I pay for a Library I won't use? I use the Owen Sound Library.
There are many people in this Municipality. Not every job done meets the needs of every person. Roads fixed in the former St Vincent will not likely benefit those living on the west end of the Municipality. Bridges fixed in the former Sydenham may not ever be used by others. Access to the Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library has been available for residents of the former Sydenham since amalgamation in 2001 through a Library Services Agreement with the MPL Board. The MPL also has an active membership of over 4,000 cardholders. Tax dollars are pooled and spent in a way that will benefit the entire community. We are one community and as such we will always fund services needed by our neighbours.
Don't most people use electronic resources?

This certainly was a concern several years ago with the advent of the internet and eReaders but there are still over 4.5 million Ontario residents with an active library card. Libraries continue to run on two tracks – print and digital. For example, last year MPL members signed out 83,256 materials compared to just 12,949 eResources.

Public libraries have evolved into Community Hubs where there is socialization, teaching, recreation, children programs, help with jobs and taxes, author events, book clubs, photography clubs, and crafts. Health Canada tells us the biggest threat to a senior’s well being is isolation. The library is now and will continue to be a place where you can come and not be alone. Every day there are 426,849 visits to Ontario’s public libraries online and in-person and 4.2 million Ontarians access 242,000 programs through their local public library annually. Last year the MPL welcomed 73,350 visitors and hosted 684 programs and events with 8,154 participants.

Towns and cities across Canada and the province are still heavily investing in libraries. Toronto, Halifax, Calgary, and Vaughan have opened new branches within the last five years and neighbouring locations like Clearview and Wasaga Beach will also be building new libraries in the next two years. A library is an investment for life. It builds a stronger community, enriches literacy, and supports workforce development. This investment attracts young families and new retirees.

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