Consultant, not Council, behind idea to close Mill St. library says DM Andy Macintosh

July 24, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

While there has been much discussion in the community over the past week regarding rumours the Orangeville Public Library on Mill St. will be closed, Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh took steps to reassure the community on Monday (July 13) that no member of Council has any wish to shutter the local facility. 

This all comes after Town staff posted its Recreation and Parks Master Plan to the municipal website on Friday (July 10). Included in that 520-page report, compiled by Toronto-based planning company thinc design (Tocher Heyblom Design Inc.), is a recommendation to consolidate Orange-ville’s library services at the Alder Recreation Centre and repurpose the library space on Mill St. 

Council was due to hear from the consultants on Monday, and consider adopting many of the recommendations outlined in the report, however Mayor Sandy Brown informed the public that the Town’s elected officials needed more time to fully study the report. The municipality only received the extensive dossier last Wednesday (July 9). 

“Councillors have not had enough time to weigh through this document,” Mayor Brown said. “We decided to pull the consultant’s presentation from (Monday’s) meeting, and call a special meeting for July 27. We will devote the entire meeting that night to this important document.”

In total, the Master Plan contains 142 recommendations for Council to consider, focusing largely on the municipal parks and both public and recreational facilities. In the report, thinc design calls for an expansive redevelopment of the Alder Recreation Centre – adding two new ice pads, extending the existing six-lane swimming pool into an eight-lane pool, and repurposing the space currently occupied by Humber College into a variety of programming and social spaces. Humber College revealed last year that it planned to pull out of Orangeville by June 2021. 

By redeveloping the Alder facility, thinc design believes the Town would have an opportunity to completely repurpose both Tony Rose and the Mill St. library. In its recommendations for Tony Rose, the organization calls for the closure of the swimming pool, and conversion of its two ice rinks into a new, larger indoor field house. Regarding the library, the report claims the existing facility is not well positioned to handle extensive renovations needed to bring it up to industry standards, thus making a transition to the Alder Recreation Centre an attractive proposition. 

“The Town of Orangeville library requires expansion to meet current standards and to be able to achieve an evolving role for libraries,” the report reads. “The main Orangeville branch is a heritage Carnegie library, which is limited in the extent to which it can accommodate required improvements, even with significant capital investment.”

It continues, “Co-locating libraries with community recreation facilities creates synergies in service use, with both sides of the complex benefitting from the resulting increased traffic. Co-located municipal recreation and library facilities can better facilitate program and service coordination and collective efforts in provision.”

Back in Oct. 2019, Ray Osmond, the Town’s general manager of community services, outlined plans for a $35 million renovation to the Alder Recreation Centre. To help pay for the project, he applied for a joint federal and provincial grant through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). Launched last year, the initiative is designed to create long-term economic growth, help to build inclusive, sustainable and resilient communities, and support a low-carbon economy. 

Through the ICIP, the federal government is providing $11.8 billion in federal infrastructure funding to cost-share projects under five streams – public transit, green infrastructure, community, community, culture and recreation and rural and northern communities. The Town applied under the community, culture and recreation portion of the grant. 

Included in that application was a proposal to develop a 35,000 sq. ft. double ice pad, which Mr. Osmond stated would help to accommodate recreational hockey, skate training and leisure activities, expanding the swimming pool, and removing the existing wet slide at the pool to accommodate the installation of an indoor spray paid and water play structure. Also outlined in the plan is a variety of behind-the-scenes facility upgrades, most notably to the refrigeration system. 

While the federal and provincial governments would cover the bulk of the cost of this project through the ICIP initiative, $14 million (feds) and $11.6 million (province) respectively, the Town would still be expected to chip in $9.3 million. 

Addressing the public on Monday, Mayor Brown once again endorsed Orangeville’s ICIP application. 

“The grant application included a 16,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art library. If that upper-level government grant is approved, the headquarters for the Orangeville library will likely be moving to Alder,” Mayor Brown said. 

He would note, however, that this did not necessarily mean the Mill St. library would be closed entirely. 

“At no time did any member of Orangeville Council suggest the Mill St. library will be closed. However, this recreation plan is suggesting a satellite branch and a repurposing of the building, likely for other cultural programming,” Mayor Brown said. “People should not believe what they see on social media. Do some fact checking and, if you want clarification, members of Council can provide you with good information.”

He added, “This Council is working together for the good of all of our residents and I am absolutely certain that common sense will prevail as we work towards improving the town, while always keeping an eye on the tax burden.”

As noted on Monday, Council received 55 pieces of correspondence from the community, who wished to have their voices heard regarding the recommendations included in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The majority of those letters and emails focused on the potential plans for the Mill St. library. 

On top of those official notices, Deputy Mayor Macintosh said he too has heard from members of the local community wishing to voice their opinion, not all of them positive. 

“I’ve received a lot of emails over the last couple of days, some quite rude to be frank. One of the items talked about in the study is the closing of the Mill. St library, or suggestions of closing it. This didn’t come from Council, it came from the consultant,” Deputy Mayor Macintosh said. “I don’t think any member of this Council has any wish to close the Mill St. library, I just want to make that clear.”

He concluded, “If you’re sending emails to us, please make them respectable. It just leaves a bad taste when we get emails like we’ve been getting.”

Council will meet on July 27 to discuss the many recommendations outlined in the Recreation and Parks Master Plan. To view the document, visit

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