Dawson Creek city council to seek input on future of public library

The options are being considered as the library looks at how it will accommodate a large and growing demand for its services, and to address deficiencies in the current design – specifically, the lack of access to the second floor for patrons with mobility issues and families with strollers.

As the report from staff indicates, there is no issue with a lack of usage at the library. The number of individuals holding library cards actually exceeds the municipal population – in 2006, there were 14,286 cardholders as compared to the municipal population of 11,094, and as of yearend 2011, it is anticipated that there will be 17,427 card holders compared to a population of 12,097. The library board projects that by 2016 there will be 19,914 card holders, or 1.49 times the projected municipal population.

“The usage is extraordinarily high and is growing every day,” said chief administrative officer Jim Chute.

One option would be to leave the building as is – with only a few repairs for operational and safety reasons – which would still result in about $165,000 in facility costs over the next two years. The library board could proceed with some proposals to create additional program space through internal reconfiguration, but this would meet only a small portion of anticipated new demand.

A second option would be to upgrade the facility to 2006 Building Code requirements, which would effectively increase space availability by making the second floor more accessible via an elevator, among other upgrades. It is estimated those upgrades would cost between $1 million to $1.2 million over and above the $165,000 identified in the first option.

A third option would be to construct a brand new, two-storey, 14,000 square foot library of heavy timber or structural steel framing and situated on a pile and grade beam foundation. It is estimated the total cost for the construction of a new building would be about $3.5 million.

City staff report the existing library building is in “very good structural shape” despite being 40 years old and having not undergone any significant renovation or enhancement since its original construction. The windows have been identified as needing to be replaced with ones with a higher insulation value. There are also issues with a lack of space for storage, parking, and for hosting special events and programs. The full report, prepared by Duncan Redfearn, deputy director of community services for the City of Dawson Creek, has been attached below.

No dates have been set for public consultations, but it is expected those meetings would take place before next year’s municipal budget deliberations conclude.

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Later in the meeting, council approved the appointment of Garth Makepeace to the library board to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Jim Rowland. Makepeace joins Marilyn Belak (council representative), Lorna Barrett, Michael Dionne, Jennifer Fox, Terri Foster and Fred Feddema on the board. However, individuals will be sought starting in early December to fill vacancies upcoming vacancies created by the completion of the two-year terms of Dionne, Fox and Foster on December 31, 2011.

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