(Black Press Media File)

(Black Press Media File)

North Saanich councillor calls for ‘urgency’ on future of library services

Coun. Heather Gartshore’s appeal comes after council tasked staff with review

As North Saanich considers the future of library services in the municipality, one councillor called for a speedy resolution to the issue.

“It’s not an emergency, but I do feel there is some urgency for us to keep the foot on the gas on this one moving forward, because we have been at this for so long,” said Coun. Heather Gartshore last week. She made that comment as council held a special committee of the whole meeting to review the municipality’s strategic plan of 2020 and help prepare the strategic plan for 2021. That plan will now include a review of library services.

While the subject has been on the municipality’s broader agenda for several years, it gained additional urgency earlier this month when the Agricultural Land Commission approved an exclusion request from the district for a portion of the land on which the Panorama Recreation Centre sits.

The municipality had previously identified the excluded property as the site for a new library designed to improve library services in the municipality. While North Saanich shares the Sidney location of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) system with the Town of Sidney, VIRL considers the municipality under-served.

Perhaps the most concrete expression of this fact is VIRL’s long-standing promise to fund construction of a new library at that location. Last week’s announcement clears a major hurdle for the realization of that project with the important addendum that North Saanich has also contemplated other uses for the site.

But as with any large project sitting on the drawing board for some time, circumstances change, starting with concerns that the municipality might not be getting full value for its membership in VIRL, a question now undergoing additional study after council tasked staff to review not only the current concept for a new VIRL facility but also discuss VIRL services compared to those offered by the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL).

RELATED: Public submissions show large opposition to library plans in North Saanich

Coun. Jack McClintock, council’s liaison with VIRL, warned that any delays to VIRL’s offer may end up costing North Saanich by dropping down on VIRL’s priority list, a scenario that also exists should North Saanich join GVPL. He also warned of potential service disruptions in case of a change. Garthshore and Coun. Celia Stock echoed the concerns of McClintock, who will meet with VIRL officials in February.

But if Garthshore and others urged timely action, while calling for additional public consultation, the public also heard from Coun. Murray Weisenberger, who argued that the real urgency lies “in getting value for our dollars.”

North Saanich’s application to the ALC revealed some support but also considerable opposition to the proposed library.

Coun. Patricia Pearson, meanwhile, raised the possibility of creating additional child care space at the location.

Finally, North Saanich has to consider developments in Sidney, which pushed its own review of library services into the fourth quarter of 2022. Weisenberger said his preference is for a satellite facility in North Saanich and an expanded facility in Sidney. Gartshore acknowledged North Saanich’s partnership with Sidney, but also noted North Saanich does not necessarily have to wait on its neighbour.

Mayor Geoff Orr said during the discussion that “nothing has been determined yet,” having said earlier that any decision about leaving the VIRL would trigger a referendum followed by a transition period.

“The earliest I believe would still be January 2023, if we were do something,” he said. Sidney, if it were to depart VIRL, could follow in 2024, he said.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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

Just Posted

Sooke residents can now report various crimes without going to the station themselves with Sooke RCMP’s online crime reporting tool. (File - Black Press Media)
Sooke RCMP online crime reporting ‘underutilized’

Tool introduced last year, but so far has little public uptake

This rendering shows the proposed warehouse for lands under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority near a Sidney residential neighbourhood. (York Reality/Submitted).
Chamber of Commerce promises Sidney warehouse proposal will deliver jobs

Nearby resident said project’s benefits will be short-lived

Habitat Acquisition Trust has received provincial funding to help restore Garry oak ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island. (Photo by Jeremy da Silva)
Central Saanich park among sites for local Garry oak restoration projects

Habitat Acquisition Trust received $140,000 in funding for 12 projects

Work is progressing on the new student housing building at the University of Victoria. The building will be home to 398 students when complete in September 2022. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
VIDEO: Mass timber installation begins at UVic student housing project

Green technology plays key role in building that will be home to 398 University of Victoria students

The Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society (SAFARS) helps make a difference to more than 50 feral cats in the region. (Contributed - SAFARS)
Feral cat rescue group looking for support

SAFARS helps make a difference to abandoned cats in the region

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Jasmine Francoeur from Comox is an aviation technician for the Snowbirds air demonstration team. Photo by Canadian Forces/submitted
Island woman’s career comes full circle as she flies home with the Snowbirds

Jasmine Francoeur: “To fly out here, fly into my hometown, it’s very special and I feel very lucky”

Junior A team Coquitlam Express is offering all Tri-City residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 a free ticket to one of their games. (Facebook/Coquitlam Express)
B.C. hockey team offering free tickets to hometown fans who get the COVID-19 vaccine

‘We know the only way to get fans back is people getting vaccinated,’ says Express’ general manager Tali Campbell

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s latest COVID-19 restrictions cost thousands of service jobs

Part-time workers set back again by spike in virus spread

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Leaked report shows detailed B.C. COVID-19 data not being released to public

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Abbotsford school board trustee Phil Anderson has stepped down after sharing an offensive image on Facebook. (File photo)
Abbotsford trustee temporarily steps down after sharing post relating COVID masks to slavery

Phil Anderson to receive training to better understand provincial mask mandate after posting picture

B.C. announced the launch of an app May 7 that connects youth struggling with mental health and substance use with “life-saving” social services. (Screen grab)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youth and children launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6-million to fund a virtual care platform

Amazon has announced the creation of five new facilities in B.C., to employ about 2,000 people. (Amazon/Special to Black Press Media)
Amazon adds new facilities in Langley, Pitt Meadows, Delta, Vancouver

The Vancouver port centre will be the first Amazon centre to feature robotics in B.C.

Most Read