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Halifax North Memorial Library in ‘desperate need’ of renovations

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Halifax North Memorial Library in ‘desperate need’ of renovations
WATCH: The Halifax North Memorial Public Library has been serving the city’s north end for more than 55 years. As Megan King reports, concerns about the future of the library are being raised as it is in desperate need of upgrades. – Jan 25, 2023

The Halifax North Memorial Public Library has been serving the city’s north end for more than 55 years, acting as a community space for area residents.

Continuing to greet hundreds of people per day, the public space is in need of renovations — but they will be costly, during a financially difficult year for the city.

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“I’ve asked, and council agreed, to add the money that was originally asked for by the library to be put back on the table,” said HRM councillor for the region Lindell Smith.

“We’re in a tough year and we need to make cuts, but I think when you look at the rationale of why the library asked for that funding, it was because the condition is very risky.”

The District 8 councillor is partaking in discussions with the rest of the HRM budget committee to determine the city’s capital plan.

Smith had motioned to re-add North Library funding to the list of asks.

“Halifax North Library will require more money than the $3 million that was moved back in,” HRM CFO Jerry Blackwood told council on Monday.

“When you’re looking at $60 million of projects moved back into a four-year plan, capacity in terms of delivery of those projects certainly comes into play — as well as current debt capacity.”

But a Halifax Public Library representative said by email that the “branch needs to be updated, as the building systems are now almost 60 years old and do not meet current accessibility and building standards.”

Smith says it’s more than just a library, as it provides programming for all ages and has acted as a space for Black community leaders to gather for generations.

“I grew up as a kid going to the [North] library,” said Smith. “From very, very young, seeing puppet shows and youth programs…to later on in life being the one running the youth programs and delivering the puppet shows.

“So I have a long history with the branch and still, you know, it’s still very close to the heart.”

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Non-profit organizations also use the space when speaking with vulnerable community members.

“Some folks will say, ‘Well, why is that branch so important and others not?'” Smith said. “You know, you’re also talking about a community that is vulnerable, a community that’s been forgotten for a long time in a space that people call their own. You want to make sure that you honour that space and show people that the space is worth it.”

HRM will be offering opportunities in the coming weeks for feedback from the public on the plans for the city’s budget — before any decisions are finalized.

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