Sooke library plan dusted off for another look

Proposed 10,000-square-foot facility in the works for several years

Discussions of a new Sooke library will return to the Vancouver Island Regional Library board this weekend in hopes the project will finally gain traction.

Both VIRL and Sooke council have been looking for a suitable location in Sooke to accommodate the proposed 10,000-square-foot facility for several years, but nothing happened.

It doesn’t mean it fell out of sight, either.

Last October, Capital Regional District approved $6 million in funding for the new library, the first major step forward in years.

Between VIRL, Sooke council and the CRD, now it comes down to making a final decision of where in Sooke the new library will land, said VIRL board chair Bruce Jollife, calling it a “three body problem.”

“We have it in our long-term planning to get a nice and refreshed library [in Sooke], but it’s only a matter of getting through some of these little details,” he said.

Jollife, who was appointed to the library board in 2009 by the Comox Valley Regional District, said a big part of that decision to find a place for the new library is contingent on what the Sooke community and council wants to do.

“The regional library will act accordingly once we know what they want to do.”

A final decision is not as straight forward as it would appear, however.

To date, there have been no successful applicants due to either high cost, space constraints or unsuitable location.

Last March, Sooke council nearly approved John Phillips Memorial Park as a final new library site, but the idea was rejected by the community and the project again hit a dusty shelf.

Council also insists on having the library in the town core, similarly to where the current library is located on Anna Marie Road.

As such, the project hasn’t lost priority, said Sooke acting mayor Kerrie Reay, who is also a VIRL board trustee.

“Of what was submitted, at the end of the day there still was no viable option, so we continue to explore for what kind of viable options are out there,” she said.

Reay pointed out that the library project is no different from any other matters that come before council, which is why a direction will eventually be taken. In this case, the project is expected to “evolve” as VIRL and council consider the options.

“We’ll see what works, what doesn’t, but at the end of the day Sooke will have a new library,” she said.

The new library is due to replace the current facility on Anna Marie Road.