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Name changed mulled for Library Square redevelopment

The Aurora Public Library might be one anchor point of the upcoming redevelopment of Library Square, but it is about much more than just the library, according to Town Staff, and its name needs to reflect that reality.

Although ideas for the space have been known as “Library Square” for nearly 30 years, that name could soon be a part of history in favour of a new name yet to be determined.

This spring, staff will provide Council with a recommended name – and one alternative option – for Library Square, following online engagement with residents as well as community partners.

Despite a number of recommendations coming forward, however, a consensus on a name which would be easily identified and suitable for marketing has not yet been reached.

“Given the property’s historic ties to the Library, it was fitting to use Library Square to identify this property,” said Library Square Project Manager Phil Rose Donahoe in a report to Council. “Since 2001, the present-day Library has formed the west side of the property. Library Square continues to be used to describe this parcel of land, as well as the capital construction project currently underway, which includes… a 32,000 square foot addition to the Church Street School that features performance space, visual arts studios, museum storage, multi-purpose dance studio, program rooms, café and a catering kitchen.

“While the Aurora Public Library remains a key stakeholder, the project has evolved in such a way that the name ‘Library Square’ no longer captures the full extent of its cross-sectoral and collaborative nature. Therefore, staff recommend that a new name be chosen to identify the property that encompasses the Library, 22 Church Street (Aurora Museum & Archives and Aurora Cultural Centre), including the new addition, the sky bridge, and outdoor square.”

The Town began soliciting the public for feedback on alternative names in 2018 and a variety of suggestions have come forward reflecting “historical figures that people felt were vital to the growth of the Town and the nation, including the founding Machell and Doan families, Queen Victoria, and former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson who attended the Church Street School.

“Even though the Town recognizes the need to honour the neighbourhood’s heritage, it is also important that the name selected for the new space speaks to Aurora’s contemporary status as a progressive and diversifying municipality,” said Mr. Rose-Donahoe. “Ultimately, the staff committee tasked with reviewing the proposed names were unable to reach a consensus on any one name.”

While it is still unclear whether Council will have any more luck coming up with a consensus, the report notes that talks with Mayor and Council yielded a few points that will help inform the names that are ultimately put forward: cultural context of the place, Aurora in the final name, and a name that “should convey the new space will be home to arts and culture activities, but will also be a family-friendly community complex that is vital to economic development and downtown revitalization.”

Presenting his report to Council at the Committee level last week, Mr. Rose-Donahoe cited Mississauga’s Celebration Square as an example.

There, Councillor Michael Thompson questioned how, when the name is settled, the Library Square team plans to “sell and market Library Square, and for what purpose.”

“We’re at the point of finalizing the award of contract for the fundraising consultant,” replied Mr. Rose-Donahoe. “We went through the process at the end of the year and we’re just in the final stages of awarding that contract. The details will be figured out in consultation with our consultant as well as our internal staff. One of the things we originally thought was we would have one name for the entire project that would be protected, that we would hold onto as a municipality, something that would remain in perpetuity… In consultation with some of the consultants [we interviewed] we didn’t necessarily want to leave money on the table, so to speak, and that was the advice we got back. We want to consider everything.

“We don’t want to have every nook and cranny of the facility sold off for naming rights or sponsorship, but we’re mindful of that, but we still want to explore what we can name and what we can leverage for fundraising purposes, with the idea we want to raise approximately $5 million through this process.”

But Councillor Thompson said he was “not sold” on the idea of creating a brand for Library Square that could then be put on “coffee cups and t-shirts” as a marketing tool.

“We’re in the customer service business. We serve residents and this is their space. I want to be cautious about renting it out or using it for sales and marketing.”

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As for marketing and fundraising, Councillor Rachel Gilliland questioned whether staff had agreed on an actual model going forward.

“I was under the impression that we would have an opportunity to see what those options were based on the last presentation we did have in Closed Session, she said. “It would be nice to see what other opportunities might have been out there just to kind of help make that decision for Library Square’s campaign. I am not going to say that I know what all those models look like [but] it would have been nice to have that assessment.”
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