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

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

A Colwood couple has set up over 140 Christmas inflatable decorations around their property at 555 Girdou Rd. The home is lit with Christmas music playing from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Colwood house decorated to the nines with Christmas inflatables

Display on Girou Road open to spectators from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Victoria for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

(Courtesy Saanich Police Dept.)
Police hope boot search will help find missing Saanich man

Sean Hart is known to walk for miles, with or without his boots

Shopping in the evening in downtown Victoria can be a good time to go, with relatively few people in store and plenty of room to physically distance, as this photo from Government Street shows. (Don Descoteau/News Staff) 
Shopping in the evening in downtown Victoria can be a good time to go, with relatively few people in store and plenty of room to physically distance, as this photo from Government Street shows. But thanks to a new program from the Downtown Victoria Business Association, many downtown businesses will soon be able to provide free delivery for customers across the region. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Downtown Victoria businesses offered free delivery for regional customers

DVBA launches ‘Downtown Delivers’ program Dec. 7

Victoria police seek witnesses after a 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted on a BC Transit bus. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police seek witnesses after teen sexually assaulted on Victoria bus

Man followed a teen onto a bus from a stop at Douglas and Fort streets

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

The opening day on Mount Washington this year was Dec. 4. Screenshot
Mount Washington opens on time, COVID-19 protocols in place

“We’re super excited - it’s been six months in the planning.”

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)
Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of payments for household incomes up to $175,000

Most Read