Deal to reopen Cortes library on the books

Cortes Islanders have been without a library since May 4

Vancouver Island Regional Library has resolved outstanding issues surrounding a lease agreement to get the library on Cortes Island back up and running.

Cortes Islanders have been without a library since May 4 when the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) unexpectedly shut down the library in Manson’s Hall, citing safety concerns with the mezzanine.

VIRL issued a Request for Proposals in June, after talks with the Southern Cortes Community Association to find a temporary location for the library broke down. The Request for Proposals asked potential bidders for a 660-2,750 square foot space as a long-term solution for library services.

The Linnaea Farm Society on Cortes was the only respondent and the VIRL board of trustees voted Sept. 15 to enter into an intent to lease agreement with the society.

However, the lease agreement was subject to resolving issues surrounding floor loading, access for people with disabilities, and legal use as a library.

Joy Adams Bauer, spokesperson for VIRL, said Monday that the regional library has now worked out those details and the Linnaea Farm Society has already applied to the Strathcona Regional District to re-zone its property to fit with the intended use.

“We’ve resolved the issues identified in the news release,” she said. “We are now waiting for the rezoning application process to complete. We expect this may take until early 2013.”

Ronna-Rae Leonard, chair of the board of trustees for VIRL, said all parties want to move forward with getting a proper building up and running. For the past few months, Cortes islanders have only been able to check out books via VIRL’s online system. A temporary holds location has been set up for customers to return and pick up requested materials.

“I know all residents of Cortes Island are as eager as the staff and board of Vancouver Island Regional Library for a new library on Cortes Island,” Leonard said in a news release. “The Linnaea Farm Society will now seek the approval of the Strathcona Regional District to re-zone the land so a library can be established within the former Linnaea School.”