finance and strategic planning committee meeting early last week laid out months of change in store for the rapidly-evolving city of Waterloo.

Held Nov. 20, the meeting saw a coming together of the city’s councilors for a series of decision-making which not only reflected the current state of Waterloo, but gave insight as to the city’s progression into the future.

Among the highlights of the evening was the approval of design and funding strategy for a new $7.8 million branch of the Waterloo Public Library.

Dubbed the East Side Branch Library (ESBL), once completed the branch will mean an 11,500 square foot addition to the Manulife Financial Sportsplex and Healthy Living Centre at RIM park, and add around 3000 additional operating hours a year for the WPL.

According to Tony Iavarone, the idea of an east side library has been around for a “few years” due to public demand but became a serious consideration in 2015 and, since the location itself is already city-owned, doesn’t require any land acquisition fees which will keep the budget more “manageable.”

In total, the ESBL will span 13,700 square feet; a majority made up by the forthcoming construction and the balance a renovation of existing space at RIM park.

The opening will increase the library budget significantly, but won’t affect the other locations as they are “run efficiently by staff.”

In terms of the design of the building itself, Iavarone noted that residents wanted the branch to be a “contemporary library that reflects 2017” complete with open spaces, natural light, and an environmentally friendly building.

The branch will also feature private rooms for the public to use  reading, studying, or conduct meetings, and in terms of environmental impact, the building will aim to achieve the silver LEED standard.

The branch is slated for opening in fall of 2020.

Other highlights of the council’s session include a tax increase of 2.1% compared to the originally anticipated 2.4% increase, an approximate $27 per household, due to the unexpected growth of the city.

The council also decided to help the Local Health Integration Network fund one of their senior’s programs with a donation of $80,000 in order to run the program at “the level that is required.” Meeting minutes are available at www.waterloo.ca.

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