Library eviction will cost Brampton $500,000 in moving fees and $260,000 annual budget increase


Published March 31, 2023 at 7:59 pm

The Brampton Library Chinguacousy branch is set to be evicted to make space for a new med school campus.

The Brampton Library has railed against its coming eviction from its Chinguacousy Branch, the largest and busiest library branch in the city, to make room for a new campus of Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU).

The sudden decision to kick out the library and other occupants of the plaza has been met with “great frustration and disappointment” from residents who feel “their access to computers, technology help, study space, early literacy, seniors programming, and career and educational resources is being taken away,” the Library wrote in a letter to Mayor Patrick Brown.

“The Chinguacousy Branch is the face of Brampton Library and an integral part of that neighbourhood,” Brampton Library wrote. They stressed it has the most programming, borrowing and foot traffic in the city with 28 per cent of nearby households holding a library card.

With nearly a third of area residents using the branch, they report 20,000 visitors, 28,000 book loans and 2,500 computer users every month.

Brampton City council decided to give the library’s home, the Bramalea Civic Centre, away to TMU (the university formerly known as Ryerson) to make space for a new medical school campus.

According to Brampton, they chose Bramalea Civic Centre to host the new campus due to its proximity to Brampton Civic Hospital and the Peel Memorial Centre, as well as its accessibility to municipal transportation, GO transit and highway systems.

Premier Doug Ford came to Brampton on Jan. 1 to announce the campus, which would be the first new med school in the GTA in more than 100 years and the first in Ontario in more than 30. The school will hold 80 undergraduate seats and some 95 postgraduate positions.

While the Library supports “increasing postsecondary access and medical training in Brampton, we believe that due consideration was not given to the effects this move will have and the significant negative impact on our library system, our staff, and the community.”

Chief among the library’s concerns is the cost of the move. Firstly, the cost of the move itself is of paramount concern. The city has selected two possible temporary locations; Chinguacousy Park Ski Chalet and 129 Glidden Rd.

The Ski Chalet is about two kilometres north of the Library’s current home, while 129 Glidden Rd. is about 4.5 kilometres south.

However, the library says the only funding to renovate these locations to their need comes from their own cash reserves. They estimate the move alone could cost $500,000. On top of that they may be responsible for restoring the Ski Chalet when they eventually move out again.

These expenses are not part of the Library’s already agreed upon 2023 budget.

Additionally, operational costs will also rise. No one location suits the the Chinguacousy Branch needs, so the Library will have to operate several smaller locations to offer the same level of service.

Between the needed additional resources and labour, this will drive up the library’s operating costs by $260,000. This money too is beyond the library’s budget.

Furthermore, Brampton’s libraries collectively have a square footage of 0.29 per capita. This is the smallest in the province, well below the Ontario average of 0.57.

“The shrinking of the system at a time that the city’s population continues to grow will only result in this situation worsening,” the library wrote. Additionally, the closure of the Chinguacousy Branch will cost 28,000 square feet, “denying the community access to safe, free space to gather, study, attend programming and access resources.”

The new temporary locations are also rather out of the way for visitors and are “not well served by transit.” As such “travelling to Brampton Library will become more difficult and may result in a reduction in visits, a loss of staff, and will encourage more
automobile use in the city,” they wrote.

“Given that the library is a key community resource for students, the elderly, newcomers, and others that rely on transit this is unacceptable.”

Finally the library lamented the loss of community services including community rooms, abundant study space, our largest makerspace, a recording studio, settlement services and community art.

To address these concerns, the library has asked the city to hire an independent consultant to review to the community’s need for the library services, cover the costs of the move, adjust the library’s operating budget, and ensure the move the the ski lodge is a temporary one.

“We believe that these actions are necessary to ensure that our library system remains a vital resource for our community and look forward to working with you toward a constructive resolution,” they concluded.

The new MTU School of Medicine could open as soon as 2025. The city has committed $20 million to the project for renovations to Bramalea Civic Centre to host 250,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, research facilities and an integrated health clinic.

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