An unofficial group pushing for a new library in the Hillside area could be taking their pitch to Saanich as early as this spring.
Jenn Neilson, a spokesperson for Victoria Needs a Hillside Library, said a new library serving residents of Oaklands, Hillside-Quadra, and North Park neighbourhoods of Victoria could also benefit Saanich residents, who live around the Lansdowne campus of Camosun College and along Shelbourne Street among other areas within Saanich’s municipal boundaries.
A new library would improve library service in parts of Saanich currently lacking and ease pressure on existing Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) branches, she said, adding residents of Oak Bay could also benefit. As of Jan. 19, some 1,300 people have signed a petition.
According to a statement found in the Guidelines for Service Facility Standards published in 2006, “a library location should be available to all citizens within 2.5 kilometres of where they live as the “use of a library is heavily dependant on convenience of use, including the proximity of the library to home.”
Using this principle, a Greater Victoria map shows an absence of service in an area centred on Hillside Road and Shelbourne Street, and the 2010 facilities report recognizes the need for a new facility in the area.
Neilson said the group – which includes Saanich resident and 2018 councillor candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff — is not pushing for a specific location and their petition submitted to the City of Victoria earlier this month speaks of “improved library services” to keep all options open.
The petition itself asks the City of Victoria for funding to start the planning process for improved service. Should the City of Victoria support the group’s petition, it could then reach out to Saanich.
“I think it would be a good idea,” said Neilson. This said, the group has so far not had any discussions with Saanich officials, nor has had it any internal discussions about reaching to Saanich.
Both Neilson and Bondaroff agree though that Saanich residents could be among the benefactors of a new library serving that area.
“Having a library there within 2.5 kilometres is vital,” said Bondaroff. Libraries, he said, are not just about their respective collections, they are also community spaces and resources.