The city is on the hunt for the best place to put a new library.
At its meeting Tuesday night, council directed staff to look into “Vancouver Island Regional Library’s facility decision process” and report back on potential sites to locate a new library.
Though the city is taking the first step, Coun. Andy Adams warned that a new library is still a long ways down the road.
“I do see this as a number of years in the making but there are a number of steps that need to be done to make that a reality,” Adams said. “At this point, there is no cost. The cost will come if and when we decide to do something.”
Coun. Claire Moglove stressed that right now the city is “just identifying sites, no designs are being done.”
Coun. Ron Kerr, who sits on the Vancouver Island Regional Library Board, said council has established a new Campbell River library as one of the city’s strategic priorities.
“Campbell River is a hub library, as such it (also) services Gold River, Tahsis, Cortes and Quadra Islands,” Kerr said. “The increased cost to taxpayers is minimal compared to the benefits. It’s been said that ‘we can’t afford a new library.’ I believe we can’t afford not to.”
The current library is 9.683 square feet, grossly undersized for the area it serves.
Adrian Maas, director of finance for Vancouver Island Regional Library, made a presentation with Rosemary Bonanno, executive director of the regional library, to council in May and at that time said the library should be 21,000 square feet, based on the 2009 population.
Campbell River is sixth on a list of 13 urban libraries to be either renovated or re-built but Maas and Bonanno made it clear the city could get itself bumped up if either the city or the Strathcona Regional District could provide Vancouver Island Regional Library with some property to build on.
Council took that to heart and will consider potential sites.
“I see this as another key piece in the downtown revitalization and development of the arts and culture precinct,” Adams said. “And while this isn’t going to commit us to anything right now, it’s doing that step that Mr. Maas and Ms. Bonanno told us during their presentation – that it’s getting us into the que.”
Kerr noted that “a new library could be an iconic building representing the new Campbell River.”