Given the 12-year history of trying to get a library built in Sooke, some frustration is to be expected. (File)

Sooke’s quest for a new library mired in delays and controversy

District now confident new page turned in planned construction of building

The dream of building a new public library is lurching forward as lease agreement between the District of Sooke and the Vancouver Island Regional Library, along with development permits, will go to district council next week.

“We submitted the development permits to the district in June. We’re awaiting and are hopeful for approval,” David Carson, VIRL’s divisional manager of communication, said.

Sooke chief administrative officer Norm McInnis acknowledged the receipt of the permit applications and is confident things are moving quickly.

The lease agreement and the development permit will go before councillors at next Monday’s (Nov. 25) meeting.

But before the champagne corks are popped in celebration of the project, it might be helpful to review past developments in the Sooke library saga.

The project was first envisioned in 2008, and Sooke was VIRL’s first priority for a new library.

Five years passed with little action and in 2013 then mayor Wendel Milne expressed frustration Sooke had slipped to sixth on the list of priorities.

“The ground rules seem to have changed,” said Milne at a July 2013 council meeting.

RELATED: Not a priority anymore

Things looked up in 2015 when the Capital Regional District approved a loan of up to $6 million to build the library.

That’s the same year John Phillips Park was briefly considered as a location for the library, a concept rejected by council and residents.

In February 2016, the District of Sooke bought Lot A. The Wadams Way property was hailed as “a great fit for the new library.”

But a year later the district and VIRL announced they could not agree on who would cover the costs of clearing the Lot A land. By February 2017, VIRL was looking to SEAPARC to house the new library.

Push back from the district saw the Lot A option revived and by March 2017 VIRL announced that the new library would be built on Lot A. VIRL held the first public consultations on the building’s design.

RELATED: Council wants library in town core

It was also announced that VIRL had 21 months to build the library in Sooke, as the current library’s lease would come due at that time.

But another wrench was thrown in the works.

In September 2017, VIRL discovered that renovation projects at other library branches had encountered asbestos. That discovery brought all other projects to a standstill.

“We are obliged to address these issues immediately,” said Rosemary Bonanno, VIRL’s executive director, adding Sooke remained a “top priority” and reiterated the commitment to build a new library “as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”

Another year passed and in February 2018, VIRL announced there would be shovels in the ground by spring and the library would be completed a year later.

In March, VIRL upped the ante and announced construction would be finished by December 2018.

But no one seemed surprised when the timeline was amended in September with VIRL saying that they were actually aiming to submit a development permit to the municipality by the end of that month, followed by the building permit application, which will be submitted by the end of December 2018.

Nine months passed with no permit applications, but, in June 2019, Carson was back to announce that some of the fancier aspects of the library plan were going to be scrapped for budget reasons.

RELATED: Scrap the balcony

Now, 12 years after the first efforts to get a new Sooke library, some of the paperwork will go to council.

“This library has become almost mythical,” Coun. Jeff Bateman, Sooke’s representative on the library board , said.

“It’s been a long and winding road, but I’m confident that we’ve turned the corner. Maybe ultimately you have to ask if fast is best. This library will serve the community for the next 50 years or more.”



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UPDATED: Man arrested on Richmond Avenue after standoff with police following ‘serious assault’

Police were called early Sunday morning following an assault in the building

VRBA warns Saanich of negative consequences if new DCC bylaw approved

Builders association says the cost of increasing DCCs will be borne by consumers

Victoria harpist releases ‘old school’ jazz album, makes singing debut

Musician ‘blown away’ by reactions to her seventh album Songs From the Harp

WestShore Skatepark Coalition faces uphill battle as costs jump $166,000

‘It feels like a David and Goliath situation,’ says coalition member

Victoria’s Christmas bird count set to take flight

More volunteers needed on the West Shore for Dec. 14 count

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Most Read