A Central Saanich councillor is among local voices calling on the province to invest more in libraries.
Coun. Zeb King is part of a campaign that calls on the provincial government to invest $20 million in public libraries in 2020. This figure would be an increase of $6 million, restoring funding close to where it would have been had funding levels kept pace with inflation before significant cuts in 2009.
“In my [five] terms as an elected official, I’ve never seen such widespread support among municipalities for restoring provincial funding to public libraries,” said King, who is also a trustee of the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL).
King said this issue will be top of mind for many at the Union of BC Municipalities Convention. To underscore this point, King plans to share a photo from his 2018 meeting with Greater Victoria MLA and minister of education, Rob Fleming, as a reminder.
“Communities are counting on the Province to properly fund libraries,” said King, who is getting support from Coun. Jeremy Loveday from the City of Victoria, whose motion to restore provincial funding for public libraries is one of several motions to that effect on the floor of the UBCM convention. Thirty-one municipalities have endorsed the resolution.
“Libraries are vital to communities and it’s time for the Province to step up with a level of funding that reflects their importance,” said Loveday.
The ministry said in a statement that it is currently reviewing its strategic priorities for public library services to help all libraries, regardless of size or location, deliver what the ministry called “connected and digitally enhanced programs, services and resources for British Columbians.”
The statement also said the ministry appreciates hearing from communities, library boards, and other partners from around the province as it examines libraries should look like to meet peoples’ needs of the 21st century.