New library project delayed by land issues

Design work on the project won’t begin until “Sooke finishes the land deal," says library officials.

  • Wed Nov 16th, 2016 6:00pm
  • News

Plans for a new public library in Sooke have hit a bureaucratic roadblock.

Or so it seems.

The District of Sooke announced in February that it bought undeveloped land north of Evergreen Mall for $1.42 million for a new library.

But design work won’t begin until “Sooke finishes the land deal,” said Jamie Anderson, director of library services and planning for the Vancouver Island Regional Library.

District staff wouldn’t comment on the issues, citing them as in-camera (closed meeting) items.

Coun. Kerrie Reay, Sooke’s representative on the VIRL board, confirmed library details were being worked out between district staff and the library board.

“We’re working to move it forward to get it built,” Reay said. “It’s not always as easy as one would think.

“The piece of land isn’t the issue. You take a look at the land it’s all treed. It needs to be cleared. Every step of building a building has costs to it. They have to figure out how the costs will work.”

The new library, first envisioned in 2008, will see the current library on Anna Marie Road move and increase from 3,600 square feet to 10,000. Only 20 per cent of the land will be used for the new library. The other 80 per cent would be available for other uses, such as an art gallery or community centre.

Last fall, the Capital Regional District approved a loan of up to $6 million to build library facilities in Sooke, Sidney and Central Saanich.

VIRL hopes to open the Sooke branch by the fall of 2018, and both Anderson and Reay believe it’s achievable.

“It seems like it’s going really slow, but I’m still hopeful that they’ll have something in place by 2018,” Reay said.

“Council, staff and the VIRL board is very committed to getting this done. You want to say, ‘Let’s just get it done,’ but there are steps that need to be in place.”