Opinion

LETTER: The ball is now in library’s court

Re: Second site mulled for new Sooke library (Online, Feb. 9)

Sooke taxpayers pay almost $600,000 a year for library service and Juan de Fuca region residents also pay their fair share of the Vancouver Island Regional Library’s $35.6-million budget.

VIRL has been saying that a new library for Sooke has been a priority going back as far as 2006.

The District of Sooke worked with VIRL on the land issue because VIRL could not find something suitable. Their request for expression of interest was offered to the private sector to come back with options for a new library that VIRL could purchase.

As nothing that met their needs came forward from the private sector, and the District of Sooke had the opportunity to purchase the five-acre parcel of land in the town core, council offered a portion of the site to VIRL.

If VIRL was prepared to pay the private sector for a construction-ready site, then I believe in all fairness they should treat Sooke taxpayers the same way.

The district supported VIRL’s $6 million borrowing from the Municipal Finance Authority to build the Sooke library. VIRL has stated that the 10,000-square-foot library will cost $3.5 to $4.5 million to build including the cost of furniture, equipment and books. That leaves $1.5 million for other costs that they have available.

Council has made it clear it would prefer the new library be built within the town centre area. The ball is in their court. It’s VIRL’s responsibility and they have the money.

My fear is that Sooke may now get shortchanged and some of that $6 million will be spent elsewhere.

On the bright side, Sooke taxpayers own a prime five-acre parcel in the town core for future use and development. This property was earmarked for development in the Sooke Town Centre Plan done in 2010 and there’s much potential for the vision of council, the private sector and the community.

Rick Kasper

Councillor

District of Sooke

 

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