No cuppa joe at new library branch

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, Coquitlam Public Library director Rhiann Piprell and John Meneghello, chair of the library board, outside of the new City Centre library branch in February 2011. - tri-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, Coquitlam Public Library director Rhiann Piprell and John Meneghello, chair of the library board, outside of the new City Centre library branch in February 2011.
— image credit: tri-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Patrons of Coquitlam's new City Centre library branch will have more room to browse for books and study when it opens next month.

But they won't be able to buy a cup of java at the Pinetree Way facility anytime soon.

Maurice Gravelle, Coquitlam's general manager of strategic initiatives, said the city wasn't able to reach an agreement with the only proponent that applied to open a coffee shop in the 1,500 sq. ft. space at the new library branch.

"There were some details that they weren't prepared to meet what the city was asking for in terms of lease payments," Gravelle said, adding, "There's going to be a lot of construction in the next two to three years on Pinetree with the Evergreen Line. We can still operate a library but, for a business, maybe that's not the best time to open."

Gravelle declined to say what the loss of revenue would be but said the city would be going out to public tender again for a cafe once the rapid-transit construction wraps up.

The Evergreen Line is due to open in the summer of 2016, running from Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby to Town Centre Park in Coquitlam, via Burquitlam and Port Moody.

In the meantime, Gravelle said the city will use the allocated coffee house area to accommodate the five staff members who are part of its Evergreen Line Project Team.

Construction on the new library branch is nearly finished and relocation of the current branch at city hall — located about a block away — is expected to start on Oct. 22, lasting three weeks. Movers and library staff will carry over a collection of about 100,000 books and other reading materials as well as CDs and DVDs.

(In 2009, Coquitlam Public LIbrary shut its Poirier branch for seven months while the building underwent $3 million in renovations; the next year, the library fixed a leaky roof, costing an additional $850,000 but the branch stayed open.)

The soft opening of the City Centre branch is scheduled for Nov. 13, with a grand opening planned on Nov. 24, said Silvana Harwood, the library's deputy director. Occupancy approval has yet to be okayed, Gravelle said, "but we are working closely with our building permits officers."

The total cost of the new library — including construction, land and interim financing — is $15.6 million. The city inked the deal to buy the building in February 2011, responding to calls from the community to increase the branch size to meet current and future needs. The City Centre branch welcomes about 6,000 visitors a week.

The new branch at Henderson Place will result in three times more space than at the current 11,000 sq. ft. location on the ground floor of city hall. And when the relocation ends, that area will be turned into offices for city and RCMP staff — a renovation project budgeted at $1 million.


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