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Money to go toward second phase of expansion

A major expansion of the Toronto Reference Library will get a $3-million boost in stimulus Friday from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The funds will be used for the second phase of the library's $34-million expansion, a five-year renovation that began in 2007 to modernize and expand the six-storey building on Yonge Street just north of Bloor Street, sources said.

Mr. Harper will make the announcement along with Mayor David Miller and several library officials - just days after the Tories were criticized for slapping Conservative Party logos and MPs' signatures on mock cheques at similar events throughout the country.

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The Toronto Public Library Foundation, which is raising $10-million for the reference library project, applied for the grant when Ottawa opened up its $4-billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund to applications from non-profit organizations.

The project includes the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon, a 16,800-square-foot 1,560-square-metre event space that opened last month, as well as plans for a three-storey "cubed" glass entrance, a new two-storey rotunda for the library's special collections, expanded areas for research and study, and 140 Internet workstations.

The Toronto Public Library's 2010-2019 capital budget says the $3-million federal stimulus grant will be matched with $6-million from "non-city" sources such as the province and private donations, and will have no impact on city debt.

Under Ottawa's rules, the cash must be spent by March 31, 2011. Along with the Yonge Street expansion and entrance cube, the money will likely be used for roofing upgrades, conversion of atrium lighting and other state-of-good-repair maintenance, the budget states.

The renovation is being led by Moriyama & Teshima Architects, which designed the original building in 1977.

Library officials were tight-lipped yesterday about the Prime Minister's announcement. Heather Rumball, president of the foundation, could not be reached for comment. John Farrell, who's heading up the fundraising effort, and library spokesman Edward Karek did not return calls.

Opposition parties condemned the Conservatives this week after it was revealed that on at least two occasions Nova Scotia MP Gerald Keddy was photographed at similar announcements holding oversized cheques featuring the Conservative Party logo - a clear violation of the Federal Identity Program. The Liberals released a raft of other photos taken from Conservative MPs' websites with their own names or that of Mr. Harper prominently displayed on the mock cheques.

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