City councillor supports proposal for a new, or improved, library

Campbell River's public library is an aging building that doesn't have enough space for the population size

Coun. Ron Kerr would like to see the city get a new library.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Kerr directed city staff to try and make that happen following a presentation from Vancouver Island Regional Library staff two weeks ago.

Campbell River is sixth on a list of 13 urban libraries to be either renovated or re-built but the city could get bumped up.

Adrian Maas, director of finance for Vancouver Island Regional Library, told council at a May 15 meeting the process could be fast-tracked if the city could donated land for a new library.

Kerr took that to heart and this week, asked staff to prepare a report with options for a new or expanded library.

He also asked the report include any available city-owned lands that could be offered.

“I think this is a real opportunity here,” Kerr said. “Unfortunately council in the past hasn’t seen fit to move on it.”

At 9,683 square feet, the Campbell River library is undersized for the population and is old. The branch has operated out of its Shoppers Row location since 1987.

“Based on the population in 2009…the library should be 21,000 square feet,” Maas said. “If you take a look into the next few years, we should really be looking at 31,000 square feet.”

New standards set by Vancouver Island Regional Library in 2010 require library facilities to be .6 square feet based on per capita population.

The city could expedite the process of building a new library if staff, with the help of council, can come up with a business case that would go before the Vancouver Island Regional Library board.

“Fast tracking is a matter of political will,” Maas said. “If you present your case we’ll get it in front of the board and the board will consider your agreement.”

A new $1.3 million library in Lake Cowichan is expected to break ground this year because the municipality donated land on which used to sit a bowling alley.

Vancouver Island Regional Library is looking to own any new library branches, as opposed to the current practise of leasing, typically, from local governments and regional districts.

Maas confirmed the city could shorten its wait time for a new library if the city or Strathcona Regional District can come up with a new funding model or land for the facility.