Save Brampton’s Chinguacousy library location: Petitions take off; board asks Patrick Brown & council to fund new home
“Frustration” Krystina Ali says is what pushed the Brampton resident to launch a petition calling on City Council to reverse its decision to evict the Chinguacousy branch library from its longtime home.
“As a kid growing up and even right up until I was out of school, only recently, I used the resources at the library and studied there a lot,” Ali told The Pointer.
“(I was) really disappointed, even more that the City didn’t even try to get an input from the community on what was going on. Just the fact that they had the idea to put the medical school there would be nice to know beforehand.”
In early March, Brampton council passed a motion to declare the Bramalea Civic Centre, which houses the library, as surplus, and approved staff to transfer it to Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) for a proposed medical school.
Library staff were told they had until the end of August to pack their books and relocate.
On March 28, Brampton Library’s board met, passing a motion to temporarily move the branch to the much smaller Chinguacousy Park Ski Chalet on 9050 Bramalea Road with the hope of building a new home in the future. A separate resolution was passed to send a letter to Patrick Brown, Brampton Council, cc’d to TMU detailing the board’s concerns and asking for a commitment to build a permanent home.
Other requests include a library assessment by an independent body to show what the community’s needs are and a review of the annual budget to account for lost operational costs of about $260,000 annually.
Members also want the City to cover the estimated $500,000 in one-time costs of moving and improvements to the chalet to make it usable.
“On behalf of the Brampton Library Board, I am writing to express our deep concern over the eviction of the Chinguacousy Branch to make way for the new Toronto Metropolitan University medical school,” Jaipaul Massey-Singh, Brampton Library’s board chair, wrote in the letter to Brown and the rest of Council.
Brampton resident Krystina Ali has been putting up posters throughout the community with a QR code linking to a Change.org petition to stop the eviction of Chinguacousy branch library from the Bramalea Civic Centre.
“The Chinguacousy Branch is the face of Brampton Library and an integral part of that neighbourhood for over 50 years. The community response to hearing of this unexpected branch closing has been met with great frustration and disappointment as an institution that has been part of their daily lives as an accessible, walkable, transit-oriented centre of a dense, high-needs community. They feel that their access to computers, technology help, study space, early literacy, seniors programming, and career and educational resources is being taken away.”
The forced, sudden move was described in the recent board meeting by Massey-Singh as “a real step backwards in a community that relies tremendously on the library”. The branch’s temporary space in the Chinguacousy Ski Chalet will be considerably smaller at 14,000 square feet, 4,000 of which is for personnel. This compares to about 50,000 square feet at the civic centre, which includes 33,000 square feet for the Chinguacousy branch and 17,000 square feet of operational space for Brampton Library’s acquisitions, shipping and receiving, programming, outreach, marketing, and IT functions. The On-The-Go outreach van is also housed at the facility.
“The Chinguacousy Branch is the largest library in Brampton with the most programming, borrowing and foot traffic. Twenty-eight percent of households in the census tracts closest to the branch have at least one active cardholder, and every month the branch sees about 20,000 visitors, 28,000 loans of books and other items, and about 2500 uses of its computers,” the board told members of council in its letter.
“Although we are in support of 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.”
As of April 4, Todd Kyle, Brampton Library’s executive director said the board has received no response, but members have been granted a deputation to present to council during a committee meeting on April 12.
As for the community petitions demanding the branch be kept at its longtime home, Kyle told The Pointer the Brampton Library board is aware of the patron-led initiatives and is “grateful for the support and passion of the community and take it as an expression of their concern.”
“This is a spontaneous and organic action taken within the community.”
“For those members of the community who are mourning the loss, we hear you. We are in agreement that it is a loss to the Bramalea community and although we have found the best interim solution we can, we know that it may not meet their expectations. We encourage them to continue to make their concerns known to the City and to myself ([email protected]) and to support the library board's call for a better long term solution. As the April 12 meeting is public, they may also wish to attend and to request to speak to the item.”
Ali’s petition on Change.org has garnered over 226 signatures from residents.
Supporters of the Change.org petition give their reasons for signing the petition for the library to remain at the Bramelea Civic Centre.
“The Chinguacousy Library Branch has been in the Bramalea community for as long as I can remember and has always been an invaluable resource and accessible community hub for the area,” Ali wrote.
“Without any public consultation and just a few years after many updates and renovations to give citizens access to more programming and resources, the City has decided the space will now be dedicated to a medical school.”
Along with the petition, Ali has been travelling around the community with posters supporting the library branch and a QR code to link to the petition.
In an interview with The Pointer, she said feedback has been largely positive — with some residents unaware the branch was even leaving.
“I want them (City Council) to know how upset the community is. This is a community hub for a lot of working class people in a really densely populated, lower than average income area. It’s really important to not just children but people of all ages and backgrounds.”
Ali said she supported the Library board’s request for a commitment to build a new location, if the branch has to move, and didn’t think the City should have put stakeholders in this position to begin with.
“I really hope that they would honour that if they would commit to making it a temporary space and actually getting a space that’s as accessible as this library was because the transit system is right there. It’s in a major neighbourhood that’s densely populated so it’s easily accessible to a lot of people. People walk there, I walked there.”
A separate petition to save the Bramalea Civic Centre location by Katherine Sampson, not associated with Ali, has reached close to 200 signatures through Google Docs, demanding both the City and TMU jointly “reverse the reckless decision of evicting the Brampton Library's Chinguacousy Branch from the Civic Centre.”
“We are calling on TMU and the City to come up with an alternative solution and allow the Library to stay in its current location until a more feasible solution can be found for all parties. Consulting the community is extremely important and the City and TMU must do this before making further decisions instead of the closed door decision that created this mess in the first place,” the petition reads.
A longtime user of the branch, Sampson said her goal is to reach 500 to 1,000 signatures before presenting it to City Council within the next few weeks.
“I want them to know that the residents of Bramalea aren't happy with this decision. In the past few weeks I've had the chance to speak with numerous people in the community and we feel like we were betrayed by the Council who failed to consult the people who this will actually impact on this matter,” she said.
A full copy of the letter sent from Brampton Library Board Chair to Mayor Patrick Brown
Email: [email protected]
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