All signs point to Campbell River getting a brand-new library.
Campbell River council has affirmed its support for the proposed two-storey, 20,000 square foot library on the site of the current branch at 1240 Shoppers Row.
“This is an important step forward in ensuring that the people of Campbell River receive a state-of-the-art new library,” says Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams.
“By voting to continue with project planning on the existing library site, our goal of developing a safe, vibrant, and dynamic cultural precinct in the core of our city can continue. This is the right location and the right time for a new library for the people of Campbell River.”
In recent weeks, there has been some discussion about the downtown location and whether demolishing the existing library is the best path forward.
Some of the factors that influenced council’s decision included the fact that the site is city-owned and would not require purchasing any new land, as well as costs associated with refurbishing the existing building.
A Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) release says rebuilding on the current site “will also enhance safety in the downtown core.”
The new library is anticipated to incorporate what is currently a courtyard.
According to the VIRL, this change and other features “will create clear sightlines and an open layout to encourage positive activity and behaviour in and around the branch.
The next step is two shared public consultations hosted by the VIRL and the city.
The first will gather feedback and ideas on the design and features of the library; the second will present the proposed renderings and provide answers to outstanding questions.
As a result of the ongoing pandemic, VIRL and City staff are planning how to offer safe and extensive consultations that include connecting with Indigenous community members, the business community, families, newcomers, seniors, and youth.
Details on project progress and construction timelines, as well as dates, locations, and formats for community members to provide ideas and insights will be provided when available at virl.bc.ca or campbellriver.ca.
“Planning, designing, and ultimately building capital projects of this size and scope are always complex and multifaceted,” says Gaby Wickstrom, chair of the VIRL board of trustees.
“Since 2011, the Board of Trustees has supported the substantial renovations or new builds of 18 branches in communities large and small. There are always challenges to overcome, but VIRL staff have learned from experience and are ready to apply their expertise to this exciting and vital project.”
The $14 million budget includes the cost of construction, furnishings, technology infrastructure, and site preparation.
Because VIRL is a regional system with a pooled budget, the costs of the new library will be shared by member jurisdictions rather than paid for by Campbell River taxpayers alone through their regional district contribution.
Costs are being finalized on preliminary design concepts, and are expected to be higher than originally forecast, due to rising lumber and construction costs during the pandemic.
VIRL anticipates receiving updated cost estimates in the very near future.
The city says it has committed to providing a no-cost lease to VIRL, demolishing the existing facility, and to servicing the site with sewage, water, drainage and CR Municipal Broadband service.
“The Campbell River library is already a bustling place,” says VIRL’s executive director, Rosemary Bonanno.
“In 2019, nearly 300,000 people visited the branch to participate in programming, find their next great read, use a public computer, seek refuge from the cold, or plan their next business venture. As Campbell River moves forward with its economic development goals, the new library is poised to become a beacon of innovation and a centre of the community. It will become a place that sparks ideas, inspiration, literacy, and renewal.”
Other pre-pandemic statistics for the branch include:
- more than 260,000 items circulated,
- more than 10,000 program attendees, and
- a total value of $562 for a Campbell River library card.