New Campbell River library a possibility

Campbell River is sixth on a list of 13 urban libraries to be either renovated or re-built

Campbell River could get a new library if the city can make Vancouver Island Regional Library an offer it can’t refuse.

The organization is in the process of trying to update its facilities.

“Campbell River effectively only serves 44 per cent of the population,” said Adrian Maas, director of finance for Vancouver Island Regional Library, during a delegation to council May 15.

Campbell River is sixth on a list of 13 urban libraries to be either renovated or re-built. The process could be sped up if the city or Strathcona Regional District could provide Vancouver Island Regional Library with some property.

“Lake Cowichan donated land in order to fast-track things and we’re having discussions with a couple of other municipalities,” Maas said. “Fast tracking is a matter of political will. If you present your case we’ll get it in front of the board and the board will consider your agreement on a case-by-case basis.”

Maas said the Campbell River library is 9.683 square feet, undersized for the area it serves.

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

Vancouver Island Regional Library set new standards in 2010 that its facilities should be .60 square feet per capita. The new Facility Master Plan was created by the regional library board as a result of strategic planning that began five years ago.

“We went to the communities during the process and asked about their expectations of local libraries,” said Rosemary Bonanno, executive director of Vancouver Island Regional Library. “We got almost the same response everywhere and that was that they wanted bigger, better, more. The facilities did not support the customer’s vision of a 20th century facility.”

The study revealed that libraries are too old, overcrowded, and in some cases inaccessible. It also found that most branches suffer from deferred maintenance because of inadequate budgets. To remedy the situation, in 2010 the board recommended a funding increase over 10 years of 1.25 per cent for facilities, one per cent for maintenance and repairs, furniture, fixtures, and equipment.

Maas said Vancouver Island Regional Library would prefer to own its library facilities, rather than lease them, to keep costs down.

Coun. Ron Kerr said he would like to see the city take action on securing a new library.

“I think this is a real opportunity here,” Kerr said. “Unfortunately council in the past hasn’t seen fit to move on it and we’re probably at the back of the line for a new building.”

Bonanno reminded council that Campbell River is sixth on the list.

“You’re not that far behind,” she said. “If you get a funding model in place, that will expedite the process.”

Maas confirmed that Campbell River could move up in the ranking with an offer of land or a new funding model.