Mississauga’s Port Credit Library reopens after closing its doors for $7M renovation in 2021 
Alexis Wright/The Pointer

Mississauga’s Port Credit Library reopens after closing its doors for $7M renovation in 2021 

Panels of windows line the series of indoor corridors near the edge of Lake Ontario where the Credit River joins its dark-blue waters. Natural light illuminates the rows of books that fill the interior with the Port Credit Lighthouse standing tall off in the distance.

Behind years of structural repairs and refurbishments, Mississauga’s second oldest library had slowly been sinking into the ground, devoured by the softened soil that surrounded its foundation. In June 2021, the Port Credit Library had seeped so far into itself the City made the decision to close its doors to the public due to critical structural issues.

Since the doors to the long-standing structure shut out the world around it, City staff researched and reviewed several options to keep its presence alive, including building a new library at the same location, relocating to another location in the Lakeshore area, or maintaining the existing library by repairing the concrete foundation. 

In February of 2022, council approved an estimated $8 million plan to repair the foundation of the sinking ship. The approved staff recommendation included repairs on 24 piers, equipping them with support beams like the 2016 pilot that had previously made an attempt to keep the slowly deteriorating structure intact. The funding was to be split across two years, with $3 million being allocated in 2022 and the remainder in 2023. 

The recent $8 million facelift included new support beams installed approximately 50 feet below ground level/bedrock around the existing concrete foundation. With the complexity of stabilizing the foundation while the building still exists, workers were required to excavate most of the earth surrounding the library and slowly work through each of the 24 pillars. City staff initially estimated 20 to 24 months for project completion, with an anticipated reopening date in the spring of 2024, but they came in ahead of schedule and the newly revitalized facility opened its doors on August 15. 


Inside the rehabilitated Port Credit Library. 

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


The decision to rehabilitate the foundation, a City spokesperson recently explained to The Pointer, was made because it was the most cost-effective solution, allowing the library to stay in the neighbourhood while extending the life of the building for years to come. The final project budget including the cost of the repair work and building lifecycle renewal came in at approximately $7 million. 

“We need a library in Port Credit. There's no way in the world that we could go without having a library,” Ward 1 Councillor Stephen Dasko said. He previously called the library the “heart and soul of our Port Credit neighbourhood.”  

“We need one, it's got to keep on going. Especially with more people coming into the community, it's a central spot. It's a gathering place. It's been a part of our community for years.”

According to the City’s Library Master Plan, the catchment area surrounding Port Credit Library has an estimated population of 104,000 with forecasts adding 12,000 people over the next 10 years and 33,000 by 2041.  

“The Port Credit Library is a keystone in the community as it is a well-loved neighbourhood hub,” the City spokesperson said. “Local residents use the library as a place to sit comfortably in a warm or cool environment, connect with staff and find library resources that meets their recreational or research needs. Port Credit Library is also frequently used by visitors to the area (such as those who boat into the area during the summer months) who enjoy our free WiFi and helpful staff who can assist them in navigating the community.”

Established in 1896, the Port Credit Library provided services to residents from various locations in its early years before finding a permanent home at 20 Lakeshore Road East in 1962, which also happened to be the former stomping grounds of the old Faulkner Marsh, a wetland complex and diverse ecosystem that residents turned into a dumping ground nearly a decade prior in 1953. The library and the neighbouring Port Credit Memorial Park were then built on landfill that over time impacted the stability of the building’s foundation and supports, Dasko explained. Further down the road, the nearby Lakeview Power Plant also contributed to the pollution by dumping coal fly ash into the area, adding further stress to the concrete piers fighting to keep the library above ground.

For the past 40 years, the City has been pouring taxpayer dollars into renovations and structural supports to keep the building alive, but nothing could prevent the structure from its inevitable demise at the hands of the earth’s natural elements. 

According to the 2022 budget, $21 million was allocated to the Port Credit Library between 2022 and 2025. At the time, Shari Lichterman, Mississauga’s former commissioner of corporate services and chief financial officer, said the City would be amending the amount forecasted in the budget and would be removing $13 million from the budget and returning it to the City’s reserves as the approval of the repairs project over the next two years would save that amount of the expected maintenance and repairs between the time of the project’s approval and 2025.  

In 2010, the City received funding from the Federal Infrastructure Stimulus Fund to complete $3.1 million in renovations. The adaptive reuse project completely refurbished the outside parts of the building while keeping the structural integrity intact. Renovations were completed in March 2011 and in 2013, the finished library won the Governor-General's Medal for architecture for its creative design and eco-friendly revitalization, its modern design enhancing the waterfront neighbourhood of Port Credit. 

Prior to the 2013 touch-ups, renovations were first carried out in 1992, the City previously explained, noting that “to the best of our knowledge,” there were no reports of structural damage. In 2013, the same year the building won the award, a routine condition assessment uncovered visual deterioration of some of the 27 piers holding the building up. Work to preserve the foundation of the Port Credit Library continued in 2016 in an effort to slow the building from sinking further into its surroundings. A structural review on the building found the concrete foundation needed crucial repairs and in order to avoid the area being disturbed further and risk more sinking, the City selected a plan to install helical piles. To address the sinking, four to six large steel screws were installed around three decaying piers to act as support mechanisms.  

The City employed an engineering firm, as per a structural recommendation, to keep a watchful eye on the foundation’s aging bi-monthly until 2021 to make sure the building could continue to be operational and safe. The engineering firm recommended a more thorough structural inspection and concrete testing regime be undertaken in five-year intervals with the first testing to occur in 2021, when considerable deterioration was found.

“Structural testing indicated further loss of cross-section of some of the concrete piers and based on the recommendation of the structural engineering firm, and out of an abundance of caution, staff initiated the closure of the library for public use,” a 2022 staff report stated. The report found the foundation’s 27 caissons that support it were deteriorating, with only three of the caissons having been rehabilitated as a part of the pilot project that occurred in 2016. With foundation repairs typically due at the 75-year mark of a building’s lifecycle and the Port Credit library at the 60-year mark, the report noted extensive foundation repairs were required in order for the library to re-open to the public.

“The results of the testing indicated a considerable loss of cross-section on 4 caissons during the past 5 year timeline. Although there were no obvious signs of distress or structural failures observed in the caissons during the condition survey,” the consultant deemed the 50-year-old foundation beneath the structure to be “exhausted.” That’s when council opted to save the library at its existing location. 

Since repairing the structure, the City spokesperson said there has been a visible increase in library customers coming into the reopened location. 


The Port Credit Library provides a vital service to the southern communities of Mississauga. 

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


“While the temporary Pop-Up location at the Port Credit Memorial Arena was a beautiful space to transition to during the renovation process, customers have shared that they are enjoying the return to the larger permanent location,” the spokesperson said. “We anticipate that this increase will continue as we head into the new school year and return to our full-range of programming activities held in our dedicated programming space.”

“The completed foundation repairs will extend the library’s life by 50 years,” they added. “No further renovations are anticipated other than routine lifecycle maintenance of building components.”



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