EDITORIAL: Page needs to be opened on library project

We say: New library holds the key to town centre development.

If the District of Sooke really wants to move forward on town centre development, the biggest leap will come from building a new library.

The district, Vancouver Island Regional Library board and the Capital Regional District have all agreed Sooke’s current library is past its best before date.

Yet, any move to a physical building is moving at a glacial pace.

Last summer the district asked for a request for proposal and had six replies. None met the criteria. (Although one developer said, he met all the criteria except proper zoning; that problem has since been rectified).

The CRD approved up to $6 million in funding last October, but VIRL can’t seem to get dust off the project’s plan and take it to the next level.

Municipal and library officials say everyone needs to be onside. Fair enough, but they also need to be rowing in the same direction, too.

The back and forth discussions on the library project has been going on for years. This Saturday, VIRL board will discuss the library again, but there appears little, if any, hope of it getting out of the bureaucratic quagmire.

Now as the district is headstrong in developing the town centre, with the completion of the roundabout, it is time to get this project off the ground.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that libraries have helped revitalize struggling or depressed communities.

Like a major department store in a mall, libraries attract large numbers of people, creating economic opportunities for a myriad of businesses and organizations in the surrounding area. Large cities, medium-sized ones and even small towns have successfully transformed their libraries into the hubs of vibrant neighborhoods.

In the words of Robert Putnam, “People may go to the library looking mainly for information, but they find each other there.”

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