Sidney wasn’t and isn’t considering leaving current library system, says mayor

Sidney wasn’t and isn’t considering leaving current library system, says mayor

Current plans call for a review of library services in 2022

Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith says the municipality was not and is not considering changing library systems.

He made that comment after council received a report from Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) that described various local user statistics. Sidney had asked for them after councillors had considered a letter that called on Sidney to leave VIRL for the Greater Victora Public Library (GVPL). When councillors considered the letter, Coun. Peter Wainwright presented a series of general statistics that eventually led him to question VIRL’s performance compared to GVPL.

RELATED: Head of Vancouver Island Regional Library system calls Sidney’s claims ‘problematic’

RELATED: Sidney hears calls to book out of Vancouver Island Regional Library system

“Why is GVPL out-performing VIRL by so much, considering that the tax levy, the funding for them, is somewhat comparable?” asked Wainwright during his presentation last month.

Rosemary Bonanno, VIRL’s executive director, subsequently described these comparisons as “problematic” in arguing that a “review of VIRL policies, strategies, and deliverables all point to an excellent return on investment.” This said, she also told Sidney that the provincial library act offers jurisdictions an “exit strategy.” Such a step would require a referendum.

If Bonanno’s comments further raised speculations about Sidney leaving VIRL, McNeil-Smith was trying to reign them back.

“We weren’t and we aren’t considering changing our library service provider at this time,” McNeil-Smith. “And there are three reasons for that.”

First, the Sidney/North Saanich just underwent what McNeil-Smith described as a “rebuilt” valued at $2 million dollars. “So it would only be reasonable with the new completely revamped facility there to let service unfold, and then measure it sometimes down the road what resident satisfaction is,” he said.

Second, the Sidney/North Saanich branch is a partnership with North Saanich, which is currently considering additional services. “Sidney’s council certainly respects North Saanich’s freedom to do that. If in fact it happened, it would change service levels significantly, and that is a longer process,”said McNeil-Smith. “So we would want to wait until that outcome to see where they [North Saanich] are. We are now talking about a number of years.”

Third, since the existing Sidney/North Saanich branch is a partnership with North Saanich, any review of library system would inevitably involve North Saanich, he said. Such a review, he added, would come from an independent third party, or involve additional discussions with VIRL. And if the outcome of that review process would lead to a referendum, depending on the information received, the most-effective timing of such a referendum would be the next municipal election in 2022.

“So those three reasons kind of dove-tail,” said McNeil-Smith, adding that the current strategic plan calls for a review of library services in 2022. “Depending on the outcome of North Saanich and what we hear from patrons in Sidney, we might pursue it in a number of different ways,” he said, adding later that strategic plans are subject to change as well. “Will it absolutely happen? Who knows.”

McNeil-Smith acknowledged growing public interest in state of local library services. “At this point, we would like to work through our representative Coun. Barbara Fallot with VIRL and if there are opportunities to improve services, then well.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police seek man with violent criminal history against elderly

Jason Soukochoff wanted on Canada-wide warrant for parole violations

West Shore RCMP pulled over a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Nov. 23 after noting that it didn’t appear safe for the road. (West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP pull over vehicle held together by tape and cargo strap

RCMP deemed the vehicle unsafe for the road and had it towed away

Sooke parks staff are all smiles as they welcome the opportunity to bring the holiday spirit to the community with the hanging of festive décor on light standards. (Contributed - District of Sooke)
Sooke lighting up holiday spirit

Sooke Road roundabout lights up Dec. 1

The growing field lacrosse program at Royal Bay Secondary has produced a number of scholarships for its players to American universities, starting in the fall 2021. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Five Royal Bay students sign Lacrosse scholarships at U.S. universities

“It’s a village that raises these kids,” says lacrosse coach

The Sooke Food Bank told Sooke city council Monday that they’re projecting to spend $32,000 more compared to 2019 figures. President Kim Metzger said that they’re looking for a bigger space, as they’ve had logistic problems for food storage. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke Food Bank voices dire need for bigger space

‘We found that we’re not quite prepared,’ says president of volunteer group

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

An excavator was stolen from a rural property south of Nanaimo this month, say police. (Photos submitted)
Excavator stolen from property south of Nanaimo

Bobcat Mini believed to have been stolen between Nov. 12-14, say RCMP

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Most Read