This photo courtesy of Daphne Wood, director of library services, planning and engagement at Greater Victoria Public Library, shows items removed from Saanich Centennial Library Branch hours after an underground burst at Saanich’s Pearkes Recreation Centre. The library announced it will close for at least three weeks (Daphne Wood/Submitted).

Saanich Centennial library branch closed for at least three weeks

Almost 60,000 items to be stored off-site as crews have to remove all carpets and drywall

First the good news. Anybody who borrowed items from the Saanich Centennial Library Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) will get a three-week extension.

Now the bad news. This fact also means that the library will remain closed for at least three weeks following a flood in Pearkes Recreation Centre last week. The flood itself happened when an underground pipe burst.

RELATED: UPDATED: Damage control underway as flood closes Saanich library, recreation centre

Several parts of the complex closed following flood have since re-opened: Gold and Green Arenas, as well as their respective change-rooms, Gold and Green lobby washrooms, the field house, the fitness centre, the Gardom Room, the Ross Room, and the Flipside Teen Centre, according to the municipality.

But the library along with the Saanich Archives, Saanich Neighbourhood Place Hallway (including the Owen and Lam rooms), the fitness change-rooms, the fitness upper level washrooms, and the Fieldhouse washrooms will remain closed until further notice.

Perhaps the most significant of these closures is the library.

Daphne Wood, GVPL’s director of library services, planning and engagement, said the temporary closure of the library will be “deeply felt” because of its place in the larger complex. This said, the GVPL has taken measures to divert traffic and some programming to the Emily Carr branch near Uptown, she said.

Staff, meanwhile, have started the process of moving all 58,663 items in the branch’s collection to an offsite location as part of the restoration efforts. Worse, it requires removing all carpets, drywall and some of the furniture, she added.

It is not clear how much the process this will cost, and when the library will ultimately reopen. But Wood has one piece of good news. “To our knowledge, any damage to the collection has been minimal,” she said, in crediting the quick work of staff shortly after the flood.

Saanich Archives also dodged worse.

“Damage to archival collections was minimal,” said Kelsie McLeod, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich. “The collections will be removed and stored offsite until the restoration work is complete,” she said. it is not clear yet when that will be the case.

“It is too early to comment on when the Archives will reopen, but we will provide an update as soon as information becomes available,” she said.

Staff also continue to investigate the cause of the leak, said McLeod.

“As the broken pipe is located under the building, staff are still working to safely access it,” she said.

Final costs of the leak remain uncertain at this stage. “Remediation work on the areas of G.R. Pearkes affected by the flood is currently underway,” she said. “We expect this work will likely take several weeks. Once the remediation is complete, a full damage assessment will be conducted, including timelines for repairs.”

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