Letter to the Editor: A Better Use of the Colonial Building


Why isn’t the Colonial Building on Military Road being utilized as a downtown library space? This building would be the perfect site for a downtown public library. The building currently is being renovated to house a political interpretation museum. It has sat empty since at least 2010 and I think it is time to start asking what is going on with it.

I do understand the historical significance of the building, and think a political museum is a good idea. However, I feel a better use of this space would be to convert it into a fully accessible library. What St. John’s lacks, that many cities of its size have, is a library in the downtown area.

I believe this location is a perfect place for a library due to its vicinity to the popular Bannerman Park, many schools, tourist attractions, and it is on a bus route. The building, which is of significant historical value, can still show off the political history, while the space itself can be used as a library.

This can be done by having it in and amongst the library exhibits, displays, or plaques to honour the historical importance of the site. A well designed library/museum could easily draw all types of folks from students, elders, families, and even tourists.

Our public libraries would be better attended if we actually put money into making them easy to access. Make our downtown library an enjoyable landmark in our community. Make it a place people look at in awe and become inspired by. Make it a thriving hub instead of a strip mall cast away. We can make our libraries worthwhile to visit by combining the beauty, history, and needed social amenities in this space, the Colonial Building. Who’s with me on this one?

Take pride St. John’s and stand up for your public spaces. I want my children to remember the library as a beautiful fortress of knowledge. We deserve to have a downtown library that we can be proud of. Let’s put value, history, and beauty back into our libraries because they are worthwhile. Libraries do mean something to our community. I’d vote for that.

Letter to the Editor by Katrina Taliana 

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  1. I completely agree, St. John’s definitely needs a downtown library space. This would be a great use of this building, as would the Supreme Court building when the province builds the new courts.

  2. A lovely idea but unfortunately it would not be that simple. One of the issues regarding this building and its age is adequate exiting (to meet the National Building Code requirements) for public safety. There are also accessibility issues (barrier free access for everyone) and public washroom requirements which would have to also meet the NBCC) .

  3. these upgrades would have to be done for any public use, including the current museum plan, surely?

  4. stoppretendingyoucare on

    There’s are reasons so many libraries across Newfoundland were closed, why would they do that?

  5. Who would be a reasonable person to contact about pushing this as a potential option for the space?

  6. Politicians. Your MHA, the cabinet minister responsible. Might not hurt to nudge your MP even, but it would have to be a provincial political decision.

  7. Obviously not, but there could potentially be funding available for necessary conversion at the federal level. Constituency offices do a wide variety of match-making.

  8. Great stuff but very old news.Many have been saying this for years. We are the only capital city without a downtown cultural centre that includes a library, community centre, pool, etc….Back in 1993 I moved to Vancouver and they were thinking of building a new library. A few years later there it was with mix usage building next door. Take a look at the new Halifax library as well. Talk about forward thinking. We have many under utilized spaces and maybe with a new council we can begin to talk about that. Somehow we continue to build single purpose designs(convention centre?) without the thought of multiuse. In the meantime the Colonial building renos were great for that one wedding photo session in july..what pics!

  9. Whine and WiFi on

    There are libraries at MUN and the Arts and Culture Centre. There are community centres all around town (Mews Centre, Max, Paul Reynolds Community Centre, Field House). There’s a pool right behind Colonial Building.

    The place isn’t that big, it’s a pretty easy trek.

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