Sooke’s long awaited library moved closer to reality as council this week granted a development permit that paved the way for the project.
Vancouver Island Regional Library representatives were on hand to provide details on the proposed library construction.
And while the permit was granted, it was also made contingent on the submission and approval of a landscape agreement by the district and the provision of a landscape bond of 110 per cent of the cost of landscaping and paving.
“As soon as they provide the landscape documents and we approve them, they can apply for a building permit for the library,” Norm McInnis, Sooke’s chief administrative officer, said.
“They’ve told us that they have most of the drawings for the building permit application completed, so we’re hopeful that it won’t take too long for that to happen.”
In addition to the architectural drawings for the structure, VIRL will also have to meet a series of other requirements, including a geotechnical report, a tree protection plan, a storm water management plan, and a right of way for the drainage of the site – all before a building permit is issued.
VIRL has 24 months to present all of that material before the development permit lapses.
Once the building permit is issued, VIRL said construction of the library is expected to take about 16 months.
And, despite the delays and missteps that have dogged the library project, Mayor Maja Tait remained upbeat about the new library.
“I know this is something we’ve been awaiting for some time, but I think it’s very exciting,” Tait said.
“I want to get to the shovels in the ground stage as soon as possible so we can see that it’s really happening.”
Tait offered VIRL officials the use of a ceremonial shovel for the ground-breaking ceremony.
“I have this beautiful shovel, just waiting to get dirty,” Tait said. “I even have those big scissors for a ribbon cutting.”
It was left to Coun. Jeff Bateman, however, to provide an unusual metaphor to describe the library process to date.
“I look at this as a pregnancy. The first trimester lasted from a library gleam in the eye in 2008 until 2017’s agreement with VIRL,” Bateman said.
“The second trimester is the lease of the property and the development agreement, and the third will be the actual construction. It’s been a difficult pregnancy, but we’re still excited.”
Council was unanimous in its praise of the circular design of the proposed library and some of the more unique aspects of that design.
Juanito Gulmatico, the project’s architect, said the building’s design was inspired by the idea of a “log” section wrapped with vertical cedar paneling that emulates the texture of a “tree bark.”
The exterior of the structure will be defined by heavy-timber columns and beams supporting a large canopy structure at the library’s entrance.
“This structure will help define our community for the next 50 years. I’m very excited that it’s moving forward,” Tait said.