It took a while for city council to pull the trigger on re-doing the entrance to the Bob Harkins Branch of the Prince George Public Library. But they did and this week the entrance opened with limited fanfare due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nearly 800 visitors the Bob Harkins Branch of the Prince George Public Library receives each day (according to estimates in 2019) will be the beneficiaries of the modern and accessible new entrance, which has officially opened.
The project involved the installation of a two-and-a-half storey, roughly 5,000-square-foot addition to the north side of the library, which will increase the accessibility and security of the facility:
- An elevator with access from both sides providing access from the parking area, plaza level, main floor, and second floor.
- Improved stairs for access from the main lobby to the main floor.
- Windows to maximize natural light and an open atmosphere.
- Exterior entries are accessible through automatic sliding glass doors.
- Enhanced accessible parking and drop off zone at parking level.
The original budget was set in late 2017, but increased labour and materials costs, as well as an addition to the project, added $1.28 million to the project and pushed the budget to $3.95 million.
Earlier this year and as part of the operation, the city undertook a renovation to the library’s circulation area. That part of the operation included the installation of a new circulation desk countertop.
Also as part of the project, crews recently installed a sidewalk connecting the parking lot to Canada Games Plaza, which will be the first in Prince George to be heated with renewable energy. Concrete was poured around pipes that carry hot water from the Downtown Renewable Energy System. The heat will help to melt snow and ice from the sidewalk in the winter.
“The beautiful new entrance is going be a very welcome addition for many, many library patrons,” said Lyn Hall, Mayor of Prince George. “This is a huge day in the history of this highly valued civic facility and I think that the building’s famous namesake, Bob Harkins, would be extremely pleased with this fantastic upgrade. Council wishes to thank residents for their patience with all of the construction activities, the Library Board and staff for the perseverance they have shown in getting us to this point and all of the construction crews for their hard work.”
Construction of the new library amenities has been a “made-in-PG” operation, as both the architect (Chernoff Thompson Architects North) and construction company (Datoff Bros. Construction) are based in Prince George.