UPDATE: Second site mulled for new Sooke library

Vancouver Island Regional Library now looking at becoming part of SEAPARC

Construction of a new public library in Sooke will probably be delayed as the Vancouver Island Regional Library looks to another property on SEAPARC land, officials said Wednesday.

Early last year, the District of Sooke and VIRL announced with fanfare a new library would be built along Wadams Way, after the district bought two hectares of undeveloped land for $1.42 million. A portion of the land was designated for the library.

Library construction was anticipated to start this year and a fall 2018 opening planned.

The $6-million library will be built by VIRL.

But the district and VIRL could not agree on costs to clear the land on Wadams Way, which was estimated to cost between $600,000 to $800,000.

The shaky conclusion forced VIRL’s hand, and library officials began looking at other potential sites.

“It came down to cost,” said David Carson, VIRL’s divisional manager of communications.

“The land needed to be prepared, trees cleared, and when all those costs were factored in, it became too expensive for a public entity to commit to it, so we had to look at other options.”

So far, VIRL has not entered into an agreement with SEAPARC for land. The SEAPARC property is owned in partnership with the District of Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks, who is also SEAPARC chair and a library trustee, said VIRL approached SEAPARC about possible land options.

The new library, first envisioned in 2008, will see the library on Anna Marie Road move and increase from 3,600 square feet to 10,000. Only 20 per cent of the land will be used for the new library. The other 80 per cent would be available for other uses, such as an urgent care centre or community centre.

“The SEAPARC commission has agreed that if the library chooses SEAPARC we would be delighted to have them,” Hicks said.

“We’re not pursuing them. It’s [VIRL’s] decision on where they want to put the library.”

Mayor Maja Tait believes the Wadams Way property is ideal due to the location in the centre of Sooke.

“Council really wants the library in the town centre, but the decision on location is not ours. It’s up to the library board to decide,” she said.

Hicks and Carson pointed out SEAPARC is well situated. It is within walking distance of schools, Sunriver Estates, the T’Sou-ke Nation and transit routes. The new library would be built at the front of SEAPARC Leisure Complex at 2168 Phillips Rd.

And although there’s no formal agreement in place with SEAPARC, Carson said, several site visits have taken place and design work has begun.

“We are committed to getting the library completed as soon as possible,” he said.