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New library could come by 2016

Campbell River should have a new library in four or five years, according to Vancouver Island Regional Library.

That timeline is based on a priority list of communities that need a new facility.

Campbell River is fourth on the list but that could change.

The city could get itself bumped up, and speed up the process, if the city is prepared to contribute property or participate in capital cost financing, said Ross Blackwell, city land use manager.

“Currently the preferred method is the library to pay all capital costs for the facility, pay their operating cost, which of course would be distributed collectively in the annual requisitions to VIRL members,” Blackwell said in a report requested by council May 29 with options for a new or expanded library.

“This method of finance would have no impact on the city’s borrowing limits.”

Council asked city staff to look into the feasibility of a new library following a presentation to council May 15 from Vancouver Island Regional Library’s director of finance Adrian Maas and Rosemary Bonanno, the executive director.

Maas told council the city’s library is 9.683 square feet, which is undersized for the area it serves.

“Based on the population in 2009...the library should be 21,000 square feet,” he said.

“If you take a look into the next few years, we should really be looking at 31,000 square feet.”

Maas said a study conducted by Vancouver Island Regional Library as part of its new Facility Master Plan revealed that libraries across the Island are too old, overcrowded, and in some cases inaccessible.

It also found that some branches suffer from deferred maintenance because of inadequate budgets.

In Campbell River, the city pays the annual $25,000 operating costs while the regional library pays for utilities, electrical and janitorial.

It also paid the city $133,141 in lease payments this year.

City staff said the library, built in 1970 with renovations in 1987 and 2003, is in good condition and has received new air conditioning and lighting upgrades.

Still, Blackwell said the library is a key project for the downtown core, as it reinforces identity and is the cultural cornerstone.

He recommended council work with Vancouver Island Regional Library to discuss building design and land opportunities for a new facility.

City staff have already had discussions with the regional library regarding possible locations.

“There are currently a number of significant pending land development and capital improvement projects scheduled for downtown and this may present an opportunity to co-ordinate activities,” Blackwell said.

Discussions on land assembly are held in-camera, closed to media and the public, and land options weren’t specified.

But upcoming downtown developments include the new Seymour Pacific head office on St.Ann’s, a Berwick retirement facility along Robert’s Reach across from McDonald’s, and Rose Harbour – a women’s transition house at Dogwood and 11th Avenue.

Council was expected to consider the possibility of building a new library at its Committee of the Whole meeting this week.

City staff were recommending council hold off on any decisions until its next Strategic Planning session.

“Council has a number of infrastructure priorities over the next several years including water source upgrades and distribution, liquid waste management and transportation planning,” Blackwell said.

“It would be appropriate for council to review the financial implication of a library against other capital priorities.”

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