By Daryl Gonsalves
As residents in the Downtown East eagerly await the completion of the North St. Lawrence Market redevelopment in 2023, the Toronto Public Library has announced a new 30,000-square-foot community hub will be a few steps away from the market.
The space at 125 The Esplanade currently hosts the St. Lawrence Farmers Market in a white bubble structure. This location was originally intended to be the westerly extension of new park space for the future David Crombie Park Revitalization project.
The new location for the future St. Lawrence Branch, almost six times as large as the existing library on Front Street, will include:
● more access to in-branch services, programs, collections and spaces
● expanded and more responsive service hours
● larger public and community spaces
● opportunities for partnerships, civic engagement and resident participation
● more access to digital services and technology, including eLearning
● additional services to equity-deserving groups
City Council approved the St. Lawrence Branch expansion in 2013 for a completely different location: the First Parliament Site at 271 Front Street.
Construction was to begin in 2016 but delayed for many years in order to prioritize the development of a master plan for the historic site.
The city settled on its masterplan in 2021 – but due to the current underutilization of the area, Metrolinx chose the First Parliament Site for the future home of the Ontario Line subway station serving Corktown.
This led to the Toronto Public Library to quickly seek a new location. City staff endorsed the 125 The Esplanade proposal, with its shorter construction timeline and associated cost savings.
Planning for the library will begin later this year, and construction will start in 2025.
The TPL has committed to consulting the community on the design, programming and services of this new community hub when it opens in 2027.
The first engagement opportunity will be in the second half of 2022. The St. Lawrence Market Precinct Advisory Committee, which has already
been advising the city, will also be involved.