Saturday , 1 October 2022

Town and M.D. open to discuss proposed Library move after residents’ letters

After residents sent letters to the Town and M.D. bemoaning the proposed move of the Bonnyville library to the C2, Mayor Gene Sobolewski said he’s open to discussing it further with town council and the Library Board.

One letter described how a resident was “dismayed” when hearing about the possible relocation. She said the library’s current location is easier to get to with her mobility issues.

Another described how the move would be a “huge waste of taxpayers money” as the town has set aside $1.5 million in their 2019 capital budget for future library renovations, which the town has done since 2015 after they conducted a feasibility study at the library.

On Dec. 11, town council moved to support relocating the Library to the Centennial Centre and support the commitment of funding required. Earlier, the Library Board expressed interest in relocation.

In the council notes from Dec. 11, a cost estimate said modernizing at the C2 would cost between $1700-$2100 per square metre and $3500-$4200 to build a new library.

Mayor Gene Sobolewski said the issue is not a hill to die on, and with the potential of BCHS students moving to classrooms at the C2 next school year, there’s more time to decide.

“The direction to date is to explore further the use of the C2, however, with the construction at BCHS, there is the possibility that some of the space at the C2 could be used as classrooms,” said Sobolewski.

“I know at the board level, we looked at that and said, let’s take a bit of a breather and take some time and perhaps if we need to we’ll have more dialogue with the board, and council, C2 board.

“There are some people who are upset with the notion of moving but let’s take a look at it. But I don’t see it as a hill to die and for me one of those issues we can discuss further and make the best decision,” said Sobolewski.

M.D. Reeve Greg Sawchuk said the letters are worthy of discussing the library move further.

“What these letters tell me is we probably didn’t do a good enough job about getting out there and engaging the public. Having an open house and having a discussion, I think we need to do better. In this case, there is a lot of pushback coming. We’ve got some time though now. The high school is moving in there, for the first semester and maybe longer, and in that case, there is that time to look at all the options. I don’t know that we have looked at all the best options for the library,” he said.

Sawchuk said the Library is a town facility so he doesn’t want to speculate on where they want it to go, but the M.D. is open to the conversation.

“We have M.D. users of the Library and we’ll have to work together if we’re going to be doing something there. Whether it’s an addition or at the C2, but I do think we do have to get out there and talk to the public a little bit more,” said Sawchuk.

The move of BCHS students to the Centennial Centre is unconfirmed at this point, said Northern Lights School Division communicators director, Nicole Garner. They are awaiting confirmation from the province about the project.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.