Library location finalized

13,000 sq-ft facility to be built along Wadams Way in the next 21 months

The Vancouver Island Regional Library has 21 months to build a new, 10,000 square-foot library in Sooke, as the current library’s lease comes due.

The library board set the sails in the right direction Saturday by unanimously supporting a plan to build a new facility on Lot A, along WadamsWay.

The decision comes a week after Sooke council voted down the proposal of having the library built at the SEAPARC Leisure Complex. Council wanted the library in the town core.

Saturday’s motion, made by Juan de Fuca Area director Mike Hicks and seconded by Sooke Coun. Kerrie Reay, asked to build the library at 671 Wadams Way and that VIRL pay all land development costs in addition to construction costs from the $6-million budget.

The board agreed.

“Bottom line is, the library has to be built by Dec. 31, 2018, 21 months from right now period,” Hicks said, adding board trustees were presented with three options: rent a place, build at SEAPARC, or at Wadams. Problem was, the Wadams Way property was the only site that could hold a one level, 10,000 square-foot building. SEAPARC couldn’t, as it would have required a split-level library, which isn’t what VIRL wanted,” Hicks added.

Official renderings of what the building will look like are expected to surface at the end of March. The building could behave more than 13,000-square feet of floor space.

Regardless of how big or small the library is, it’s getting built.

“The next process is that VIRL architects will be in touch with Sooke district, and get all the zoning sorted out and get building. There’s a real urgency to get on with this,” Hicks said.

A new Sooke library has lingered in VIRL’s books for at least seven years, but the news comes as a bit of a relief for Reay,who’s been pushing the project along for years.

“We’re seven years late, and there’s been some challenges, but at the end of the day, Sooke will have their new library and the people of Sooke will be able to enjoy it in our downtown area,” she said. “I’m absolutely thrilled.”

Gears are in motion, David Carson, VIRL divisional manager of communications, confirmed.

“We’re assembling our team and we’re preparing for consultation.”

Mayor Maja Tait, who supported a central library in the core since entering office, said she’s pleased with the progress.

“It’s the best location. We have to prioritize our town centre to see it redevelop the way we always wanted to, so this is an excellent first step,” she said.

With the current library’s lease due to expire in December 2018, the clock is already ticking, bringing a new sense of optimism, anxiety and excitement to Sooke’s long-promised new library project.

“I hope [construction] will get started in the fall,” Hicks said. “It’s very exciting news for Sooke and Juan de Fuca residents.”

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