Vancouver Island Regional Library on Wednesday offered the first look at the design of the planned new Sooke library along Wadams Way – a state-of-the-art building highlighted by an eye-catching circular design.
Calling it “a highlight for our library system,” VIRL board chair Barry Avis said the new $6-million facility will be unique to Sooke, and be like no other.
“In the past, we built cookie-cutter libraries,” he told an audience of about 40 people at the Sooke Community Hall. “Now we try to build libraries that suit the community. It’s quite special.”
The library, housing an expanded collection as well as more meeting space, is a one-storey structure with lower level parking. It’s clad in natural colors with ocean views and large windows to allow for natural light throughout the facility.
Inside the 10,000-square-foot building (more than triple the size of the current facility on Anna Marie Road), there’s expanded adult, teen and children’s sections. Other public amenities include a multi-purpose room that holds up to 50 people, a study room, laptop bar and public computer stations.
New technology is also planned with a wireless network and a 3D printer.
To its north will be the building’s main entrance, which features a lobby and a large service area desk. There is also two five-minute drop off parking spaces in front on Wadams Way, native vegetation, benches, a bicycle service station, and a storm catchment garden.
There’s 59 additional parking spaces on the lower level that will also include two electric vehicle charging stations.
Architect Danielle Pepin said the building is designed for the future.
“We want to be able to use it for the next 50 years. We don’t want something that in 10 years is obsolete,” she said.
Sooke has wanted a new library for more than decade, but the process has sometimes been fraught with political indecisiveness and unforeseen delays.
The project appeared to move ahead two years ago when the municipality bought Lot A on Wadams Way, but delays in that then centered on a possible location at SEAPARC. The project was further delayed late last year when the regional library needed to do emergency repairs on other branches.
With drawings in hand, Sooke councillor and library trustee Kerrie Reay, who has championed library construction for years, is relieved the day is finally here.
“I think this is just a phenomenal opportunity that’s been created here in our community,” she said. “It’s innovative, creative, and I’m definitely looking forward to having it built.”
Construction will start on the new library this fall. It will take up to a 1.5 years to complete.
DID YOU KNOW?
• VIRL has negotiated an extension to the lease of the current Sooke branch on Anna Marie Road that continues through December 2019.
• Lead architect of the project is Rod Windjack, who also designed Edward Milne Community School, Journey Middle School and Poirier Elementary School.
• There will be no tax increase because of the library construction as it’s built into VIRL’s annual budget, which is funded by the 38 communities it serves.