The Peace River Regional District (PRRD) gave a new bylaw concerning funding for the Fort St. John public library (FSJPL), its first readings at the council meeting on May 12, 2022. 

The bylaw will allow the regional board to use taxes in electoral area B, or the area outside of Fort St. John including Cecil Lake, Montney, Wonowon and surrounding areas, to contribute towards the operating costs of the public library in recognition of the services and benefits the library provides. 

The FSJPL offers a wide range of services that encourage education, information, and free thinking. They provide a safe haven and learning opportunities to every patron and host a multitude of free events every year.

The library had over 50,000 patron visits in 2021 despite COVID-19 restrictions. On an average year, the library sees 85,000 to 100,000 visits per year. 600 of the library’s cardholders live in electoral area B.

To increase funding with electoral area B property taxes, the PRRD authorized a referendum, held alongside the 2022 General Local Government Election, to gain approval from voters for this use of their tax dollars. 

Currently the third-lowest funded library in the province, the FSJPL under the current arrangement must ask for main funders–the PRRD Area B & C, and City of Fort St. John for a grant. In addition, funding is requested from the province but is not guaranteed, and leaves the library in a precarious position. 

With this increase in funding, the FSJPL will be able to increase their opening hours and general services by supporting the staff required for this. They will also be able to expand their collection, including digital services. The library will also expand its programming and community engagement options.

Electoral Area B has provided the Fort St John Public Library with a Fair Share grant for more than 20 years. Since 2005 the grant has provided $661,500. Over the last five years funding has increased from $45,500 to as much as $60,500 per year.

The maximum requisition for the service included in the bylaw is $100,000 and will be based on property taxes. The maximum requisition for the service included in the bylaw is $100,000 and will be based on property taxes. The tax rate of $0.0281/$1,000 in the bylaw is the average tax rate on land and improvements. The estimated residential tax rate for the Electoral Area B FSJ Public Library Financial Contribution Service is $0.011 per $1,000. 

Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a news reporter for EnergeticCity.ca who recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a bachelor of arts in Media + Communications. She was born and raised just outside of Fort St. John. She began reporting for her university’s student newspaper and interned with Ottawa Life Magazine where she developed a passion for asking questions, telling stories, and the written word. In her free time, you can find her drinking coffee, snowboarding, or reading novels.