OPL considering fundraising campaign to raise at least $10M for super library

The Ottawa Public Library will have to share its “story” with potential donors if it wants a chance at fundraising at least $10 million to put toward a $192.9-million super library on LeBreton Flats, a consultant says.

The OPL hired consulting firm KCI to gauge the fundraising potential for the library organization as it plans a new main branch in a joint facility with Library and Archives Canada. The building will be constructed at 555 Albert St., west of Bronson Avenue, and is scheduled to open in 2024.

The library on Thursday published KCI’s fundraising feasibility study.

The consultant talked with philanthropists, business leaders and other city leaders to determine what the OPL will need to do to raise that kind of money. A $10 million-$15 million fundraising campaign is attainable, the consultant concludes.

There are some immediate challenges, including competition from other organizations with major fundraising programs. The Ottawa Hospital, for example, will have a campaign for a new Civic hospital campus at the eastern end of the Central Experimental Farm.

KCI says the library will need to invest in planning and organizing a fundraising campaign and start building relationships with potential donors.

Ideally, the OPL would attract a single $5-million donation, but for now that kind of gift is being considered “aspirational.”

A capital fundraising campaign run by the OPL would help the city fund its $122.3 million share of construction. Over the longer term, fundraising revenue could provide the OPL with extra operational money to run programs.

During a meeting on Tuesday, OPL will ask library trustees for permission to hire two staff for the fundraising and communications program, which would cost $1.72 million over five years.

Mayor Jim Watson stood by the super library project this week, even though the future of the western part of LeBreton Flats is unknown under the National Capital Commission redevelopment program.

“We can’t go back to the good old days where we dither and flip-flop time and time again,” Watson said after Wednesday’s city council meeting. “The reason why I think we garnered some credibility in the last couple of terms of council is because we made decisions on things like LRT. We went out for public consultation, we voted on a plan, we stuck to the plan.”

The mayor predicted Ottawa’s new main library will rival celebrated libraries built recently in other cities.

“We’ll match up with Halifax and Calgary. I’m very confident of that,” Watson said.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

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