Opinion

EDITORIAL: Wadams Way land has potential

Sooke always had the best intention of developing the Wadams Way property for a library and other public amenities, but now the Vancouver Island Regional Library is backing away from the deal.

Library officials confirmed last week they are now looking at SEAPARC as the home of the new $6-million library because the district and VIRL can’t agree on the cost to clear the land, estimated at between $600,000 to $800,000.

So far, VIRL has not entered into an agreement with SEAPARC for land, and SEAPARC didn’t approach VIRL to even consider the second option. SEAPARC, let’s not forget, is jointly owned by the District of Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

Last year around this time, there was great fanfare when the district and VIRL announced a new library would be built along Wadams Way, after the district bought two hectares of undeveloped land for $1.42 million. Only a 20 per cent portion of the land was designated for the library, the rest would be developed after further community consultation.

It was hoped the new library would open its doors in the center of town in the fall of 2018. Of course with VIRL now hedging on its bet with the land, when the first shovel will hit the ground is anyone’s guess.

The district always negotiated in good faith – from buying the land to supporting VIRL’s request to borrow $6 million from the Municipal Finance Authority to build the Sooke library.

Yet, the district can’t force VIRL to build on the Wadams Way land – and it shouldn’t feel obligated to cough up more than $600,000 to get the ground “shovel ready” for the library.

There’s no question the land needs much work – something the library board was aware of – but at the same time it has huge potential for developing the town core.

The Wadams Way property is the library’s loss, but it certainly isn’t Sooke’s.

Our community can add so many amenities with the land from a seniors and youth centre, art gallery, a critical care centre, affordable housing, much needed retail space, even parking for John Phillips Park.

No library at Wadams Way is not a lost opportunity, but one found.

 

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