Replacement site for hazardous Cortes Island Library sought

The Cortes library was shut down without notice pending a safety report

Vancouver Island Regional Library is looking for space for a new library on Cortes after its Manson’s Hall building was deemed a safety hazard and closed to the public.

On May 4 the Cortes library was shut down without notice pending a safety report on the mezzanine housing the library.

The structural engineer’s report came back to Vancouver Island Regional Library, which operates the Cortes branch, weeks later with bad news.

“The opinion of the author of the report…is that the second floor area of the Manson’s Community Centre is not suitable for occupancy as a library area,” said Rosemary Bonanno, executive director of Vancouver Island Regional Library.

Ronna-Rae Leonard, chair of the regional library board, said the problem is the weight of the books the floor was supporting.

“People don’t realize the weight of books and we have a duty to protect the public,” said Leonard in May after a decision was made to close the library doors. “If we’re told there’s a risk, we have to do something about it.”

Books were removed from the library and have been kept in a truck on site ever since.

But Cortes Islanders can only check out books by requesting them through Vancouver Island Regional Library’s online system via computer or mobile device using VIRLMobile.

To make things a bit easier, Vancouver Island Regional Library announced Tuesday it has found a temporary holds pickup location on Cortes where customers are able to pick up materials they have put on hold as well as return materials.

The temporary holds pickup will be located in the Cortes Island School (950 Beasley Road) in Manson’s Landing thanks to a lease agreement between the regional library and School District 72.

The service will be open for business starting Mon., July 16. Hours of operation will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1-5 p.m.

The location is expected to remain in operation until there is a new library on Cortes.

Vancouver Island Regional Library recently issued a Request for Proposals for a space of 660 to 2,750 square feet for a new library.

The deadline for proposals is July 31 and request for proposal evaluations and site visits will take place Aug. 2-15.

The Vancouver Island Regional Library board will review the recommendations made by staff, vote on the successful respondent, and notify him or her by Sept. 28.

Vancouver Island Regional Library had been in negotiations with the Southern Cortes Community Association since 2010 to find a new temporary location but the association’s proposal two months ago fell through and talks ceased.