As part of Winnipeg’s 2023 preliminary budget capital investment plan, the city plans to restore a property that’s been vacant for a decade.
The city’s archives are stored in a warehouse on Myrtle Street. But that could change soon with funds in the city’s preliminary budget set aside to bring the records home to the Carnegie Library.
The library was mangled in 2013 when a rainstorm damaged the roof. Well over a century’s worth of documents such as maps, council minutes and photos were moved to the Myrtle street warehouse.
“When they had to move temporarily, we didn’t know what temporarily meant, but it did not mean seven or eight years because it puts the records in jeopardy, puts the building in jeopardy if it’s also vacant,” said Cindy Tugwell with Heritage Winnipeg.
It was the city’s first-ever library and became home to the archives in the 90s. The newly proposed budget provides $12.6 million to restore the building and return the records.
Christian Cassidy is a local history blogger who used the archives regularly to do research, but he hasn’t been doing it since they were relocated to the warehouse.
“Since the archives have moved there, I’ve rarely gone there. It’s not the greatest place for them there themselves because you have to store the stuff in a heat-regulated building with humidity control, and things like that.”
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Cassidy hopes he will be able to access the documents in a popular public space again.
“The decision to fix this building back up again and move the archival collection back, takes care of two problems at once.”
In 2021, the City commissioned a report that found restoring the old library to house the archives was the cheapest option, but Tugwell said seeing it in this year’s budget made it finally feel possible.
“The $12.6 million in the capital budget to be committed, you know, especially with Winnipeg’s 150th anniversary next year, to say the archives are important, our history, our records are important.”
“So is the former Carnegie Library that was built for Winnipeggers by a provincial architect.”
Tugwell said it’s going to mean something for Winnipeggers.
“They’re going to come back bigger and better and it’s such a beautiful building that I think once it’s reopened, people will love to go to the archives and say, I couldn’t imagine not being in this building.”
However, the funds are only earmarked in the preliminary budget, so it’s not set in stone yet. Global News reached out to the city for comment and it said it was too early to comment at this time.
— With files from Global’s Iris Dyck
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