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'This is a double win': Advocates pleased with proposed funding for old archives building


Advocates are happy with the city's decision to include funding to renovate the old Winnipeg archives building in the proposed budget.

Last week, when the proposed budget was tabled, the city included $12.6 million in capital funding to renovate Carnegie Library at 380 William Avenue. The renovations would mean the city's archives would return to the building for the first time since 2013.

The library's roof was damaged by a rainstorm in 2013 and all the documents were moved to a Myrtle Street warehouse until a long-term solution could be found.

"We've been fighting for eight years to make sure that the archives, the city archives, came back to its home," said Cindy Tugwell, the executive director of Heritage Winnipeg.

"This is a double win because we're preserving the building by getting it reoccupied and we're bringing the city archives back so they can be utilized by everyone and that they're protected in perpetuity."

Gordon Goldsborough, the past president and head researcher of the Manitoba Historical Society, said he is cautiously optimistic about the news.

"There's been lots of other plans in the past that have not come to fruition. But if it does (go ahead), I think it is wonderful, because this is a facility that really needs the attention. It's deserved it for many years, hasn't got it. I'm glad it's finally happening now," said Goldsborough.

He said for this building to once again be the home of the city's archives is important because it will protect the city's history.

"The building that it's in (now) was never designed for archival storage in mind. I mean, it doesn't, for example, provide the kind of climate control that you really need for precious older records," he said. "The other reason is that the current location is awful for public use of those archives. I mean, it's one thing to keep the records, but if they're not used by anybody, then you know, arguably, what benefit are they?"

Goldsborough said having such well-kept documents in the city is a benefit for Winnipeggers as they contain everything from blueprints for all city buildings to documents showcasing the city's development over the year.

"It's just a wonderful collection, that to say, is available nowhere else.”

Whenever renovations get underway, Goldsborough hopes to see a commitment to proper archival storage conditions and also a proper setup so the public can view the documents in the best way possible.

He added the city also needs to show a continued commitment to keeping the building up to date.

"I hope they don't see it as just a one-time expense. It'll have to incur every year, an investment in this archive, otherwise, it's not worth keeping if you’re not going to put real resources into maintaining it."

Tugwell said this renovation project will really "seal the deal to celebrate the City of Winnipeg's 150th anniversary."

The proposed budget will be reviewed at Standing Policy Committee meetings starting on March 3 and council will debate the budget on March 22. Top Stories

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