A new public library in Lake Cowichan, roughly twice the size of the current facility, will open to the public by 2013, at the latest.
And the $1 million project will cost local taxpayers close to nothing.
The announcement was made during the Town of Lake Cowichan’s Tuesday, February 22, regular council meeting, during which time two Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) representatives provided the town’s elected officials with the details.
“The library we’re providing to the town will be bigger and better,” library representative Rosemary Bonanno said, comparing the new facility to the current one, hiding behind the Island Savings Credit Union, where it has been since 1988.
The new facility will be located on the town’s main drag, at the South Shore Road and Renfrew Avenue intersection. This location previously housed a bowling alley, and is currently owned by the Town of Lake Cowichan.
Construction will begin in 2012.
Bonanno said that the regional library has been in discussions with the Town of Lake Cowichan with regard to a new library building since 2005. At first, the library was to be part of a new municipal complex. More recently, they’ve been looking into whether or not the community would like the library included in a Neighbourhood of Learning project, to tie it into the town’s upcoming elementary school.
It was decided that the AB Greenwell Elementary School site, which is the likely location of a new elementary school, is too out of the way for a new public library, with the town’s main strip, South Shore Road, being deemed a more centralized location.
Unlike previously proposed projects, this new public library will be a stand-alone building.
The library’s minimum target size will be 2,750 square feet, which will provide more room to grow the library collection, including books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs and CDs. More free public computers, lounge seating, study spaces, meeting rooms, and areas for children’s programs will also be included.
The project will be cheap for local taxpayers, thanks to the VIRL’s approximately 413,000 area taxpayers covering the $1 million cost, as opposed to only Cowichan Lake area residents.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) will undertake the borrowing, as the library is a regional project, and includes users in CVRD areas F and I. The debt load will then be covered by the VIRL.
“At the end of this project, the VIRL will own this building,” councillor Tim McGonigle said. McGonigle sits on the VIRL’s board of directors.
With the VIRL owning the building, after it’s been paid for the library will cost less than the current one, which is under a lease.
During their February 22 council meeting, the Town of Lake Cowichan’s elected officials were enthusiastic about the project, both because it’ll end years’ worth of discussions and efforts to construct a new library, as well as help improve the downtown core.
“It’s going to all fit in with our downtown revitalization,” mayor Ross Forrest said.
News of the upcoming Lake Cowichan Public Library comes a week after the announcement that the town’s stretch of South Shore Road, from the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena to Highway 18, will likely get re-paved some time in 2012. The announcement also took place a couple weeks before the Saturday, March 12, grand re-opening of the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, which has undergone a $7.6 million upgrade. The area is also located off of South Shore Road.
During the Thursday, March 3, Town of Lake Cowichan budget meeting, the town’s elected officials will continue discussions around budgeting for the South Shore Road 2012 re-paving project. Although the paving of the road itself will be done by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, all other work to the area must be done by the town. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m., with all budgetary discussions open to the public.