Saanich’s engineering staff take over the old Emily Carr library building – once considered for supportive housing – this month.
The library used the building at 3500 Blanshard St. from 1972 to 2013 when it moved across the street to Uptown Mall. The building was then used by various groups, including Santas Anonymous. After the books were removed but in 2018, Saanich staff proposed the space be used as an off-site office for some departments to reduce crowding in municipal hall.
In 2018, then mayor Richard Atwell suggested turning the building into a supportive housing site or an alternative to the tent city that had formed in Regina Park. The proposal didn’t fly and the building remained a source of controversy during the 2018 municipal election with Atwell and current Mayor Fred Haynes disagreeing about its best use. That December, council approved $2.1-million in funding to renovate the building for the Engineering Department.
Work began in the summer of 2019 and staff expect to move in starting Nov. 9. On Thursday (Nov. 5), Saanich Couns. Judy Brownoff, Susan Brice and Colin Plant, took a tour of the new offices.
Brownoff said that the Engineering Department was the easiest to move to the new building and joked that it won’t be long until their former offices at the municipal hall are taken over as space is limited.
“Our space at municipal hall has served us well, but with increasing demand, we knew we needed to find a space that would allow us to continue to provide a high level of service to the public,” said Harley Machielse, Director of Engineering.
–With files from Wolfgang Depner.