The Montreal West public library will soon be in a new home but some volunteers aren’t happy with the plans for the old one.
The land where the library currently resides, which is across Westminster Ave. from Montreal West City Hall, will be redeveloped, along with an empty plot next to it. Under the plan, the library building will be demolished and residential and commercial units constructed.
A deadline for proposals from developers is set for July.
“The idea is to take this existing building and empty plot of land and ask for proposals from potential developers to turn it into ground floor commercial and condominiums upstairs,” said Montreal West Mayor Benny Masella. “The proposal says the town has the right of first refusal to rent space for the library on the ground floor. Our preference is to have it in a new community centre.”
Friends for the Montreal West Public Library said plans for the new library are insufficient, with no dedicated, stand-alone structure being set aside. They called the library an essential part of the community and called for Montreal West to hold public consultations before the plan goes ahead.
Group co-founder Giuliana Pendenza said the library is part of the city’s “cultural heritage.”
“It’s a monumental institution that should be enhanced, enlarged, harmonized architecturally with the town hall and a freestanding institution, rather than being inside a commercial development or condos,” she said.
Masella said while he understands the group’s concerns, the plan was introduced two years ago and is the best option available, especially given the city’s aging population.
“We have a shortage of condo properties in the town. We have a lot of people looking for places to downsize to and we need to increase our tax base, so we figured this was a win-win situation,” he said.
Pendenza said that the library should grow to reflect the changing demographics of Montreal-West.
“It’s no longer just a circulation desk with books that come in and out,” she said. “It’s mostly a center of focus for the community. Not just the retired and semi-retired, but we’re growing with young people volunteering as well.”