Shovels in the ground for Sooke library by 2019?

New timelines announced for new library construction

After considerable delays, the Vancouver Island Regional Library has released a new timeline for the long-awaited start of the new Sooke library.

The VIRL released a revised timeline for the project in a Sept.17 news release that said that they aim to submit the development permit to the municipality by the end of September, followed by the building permit application, which will be submitted by the end of December.

The library first received approval at the March 18 meeting of VIRL board when it was decided that the facility would be constructed on a 0.8-acre parcel of land on Wadams Way, often referred to as Lot A.

The five-acre plot of land was bought by the district in 2016.

By May, the public was treated to a first peek at the design of the new library; a state-of-the-art building with a revolutionary circular design.

According to David Carson, the director of corporate communications for VIRL, the design has been one that is designed to have the flexibility to adapt to changing library needs and position the new Sooke branch to be able to meet community needs for decades to come.

The design was a departure from the “cookie-cutter libraries: that have been built elsewhere, according to VIRL board chair, Barry Avis.

In May, he stated that the $6-million facility would be “unique to Sooke and like no other.”

But the excitement over the new library turned to frustration as by September no work had started on the project and no building permit had been issued.

Questioned about the three-month lag that still exists between the development permit and the application for a building permit, Carson explained that it was to allow time for the municipality to consider the application and for any required modifications to be made.

“If they were to approve it in September we would naturally move forward more quickly,” said Carson.

The delays in the project have been a frustration to everyone, said Coun. Kerrie Reay, Sooke’s representative on VIRL.

“In 2010 Sooke was on the top of the list to receive a new library and I started to advocate for that library back in 2012. But projects like this take time,” said Reay.

As to why the project has lagged to this point, Carson said there had been some health and safety issues (asbestos removal in other branches) that arose with development projects at other libraries,

“We have a very lean senior management team that had to balance competing priorities and that, coupled with an overheated construction market in the Greater Victoria area, have meant that some delays were unavoidable,” explained Carson.

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