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

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

Just Posted

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

Victoria tattoo shops respond to sex assault allegations against male artists

Carne Tattoo and Painted Lotus Studios respond to allegations

Mayor not in favour of low barrier housing at Oak Bay Lodge

Process is already in place to determine future of Oak Bay Lodge

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 101 km/h in a construction zone

Turned over truck impedes traffic in Langford

Truck at the side of Millstream Road near Western Speedway

VIDEO: Langford cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

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

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read