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Several civic election candidates oppose the project. Mayoral contender Rob Norris has taken the strongest stance, describing it as “gold-plated” and “excessive.”

Jim Rhode and Darcy Warrington, who are also seeking election in Ward 7, oppose the project as budgeted. Incumbent Mairin Loewen voted for it late last year, and reaffirmed her support for it on Wednesday.

Library supporters have suggested there is little council could do even if a majority were onboard. Mayor Charlie Clark said it is “pretty much impossible to delay” the project and warned of “potential lawsuits” should any reversal take place.

Reynolds did not specify how much she thinks should be spent on a new downtown library branch. She said Ward 7 residents use satellite branches, and those would be a good place for the library to invest.

The downtown library recorded 423,000 visitors last year, though the library said its gate counters were not operative for the whole year. By comparison, SaskTel Centre logged 457,157 in 2019.

The SPL, meanwhile, is forging ahead with the project. It bought land at 25th Street and Second Avenue earlier this year, and the contract for a prime design consultant is expected to be awarded next month.

According to the library, around $20 million of the total project budget has been spent or committed to date.

Council approved a resolution permitting the SPL to borrow $67.5 million for the project last November. The library plans to pay back the loan using incremental increases to its portion of municipal property taxes between 2009 and 2026.

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