Home Organizations & Associations Vancouver Island Library Board New day for Sooke: library construction to begin

New day for Sooke: library construction to begin

new Sooke library
New Sooke Library (artist's rendering).

Tuesday September 22, 2020 | SOOKE, BC

by Mary Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends

The permits have been issued, the pre-planning is complete, the wait is finally over… construction is set to begin on a state-of-the-art new library for the District of Sooke.

Once complete, the community will have access to more than 13,000 sq ft of space to browse materials, conduct meetings, access technology, build new connections, and so much more.

VIRL Board Chair Brenda Leigh (Strathcona rep)

“It certainly has been a journey getting to this exciting point,” says Brenda Leigh, Chair of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) Board of Trustees.

“I would like to thank the community for their patience as we worked through the challenges of planning within a sustained period of intensive development on the Island, revising the design to align with the Budget and the District’s development vision, and all of the other pieces that needed to fall into place for a project of this scope,” said Leigh.

Rosemary Bonanno is pleased:

VIRL’s executive director — who has followed the project since the beginning — commends VIRL and District of Sooke staff for not losing sight of the end goal and for steering the project to completion.

Rosemary Bonanno, Executive Director, Vancouver Island Regional Library
Rosemary Bonanno, Executive Director, Vancouver Island Regional Library.

“They say good things take time, but in the case of the new Sooke library, good does not begin to describe what the library will mean to the community,” says Rosemary Bonanno, VIRL’s Executive Director.

“Residents of Sooke can look forward to a modern, 21st century library with features and amenities for every age, interest, skillset, and passion. The flexible, dynamic space we’re building will evolve with the community—I am so excited to see this project move forward and I would like to thank everyone, including VIRL and District staff, Sooke Mayor and Council, VIRL’s Board of Trustees, and the community for being so committed to seeing it through. It may have taken a while, but you’re getting your new library, Sooke!”

Features and amenities of the new branch:

  • 13,412 square feet will offer a diverse collection, multiuse spaces, and more
  • Iconic circular design will become a cornerstone of the community
  • Exciting opening day collection curated for the community
  • Increased staffing
  • Expanded hours of operation
  • Expanded program schedule
  • Vibrant children’s area
  • Fireplace lounge area
  • Laptop bar
  • Study space
  • Bookable rooms

District of Sooke through a decade:

There has been public consultation, many meetings and various attempts to organize the new library, with much of the challenge being land availability (as a donation asked of the District of Sooke by VIRL) as well as the town looking at its own future directions.

Starting around 2009, now four District of Sooke councils have had the new Sooke Library on their drawing board.

children's books, Sooke Library, VIRL
Children’s book section at the current Sooke Library [West Shore Voice News photo, January 2019]

The existing library on Anna Marie Road will continue operating in the meantime.

“The District of Sooke is poised for significant growth and development in the years ahead,” says Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.

“From a community development perspective, we recognize that libraries are quality of life spaces that make communities more attractive, vibrant, and desirable,” said Tait in a release from VIRL today.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait
District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait (at the UBCM convention in Victoria, September 22, 2020)

“Despite the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, these are exciting times for the District, and the new library aligns seamlessly with our goals for the future. Our entire community will be stronger and more connected when the new Sooke library opens to the public. This is an exciting day for everyone,” Tait was quoted in today’s release.

Custom design:

The circular design is the vision of the talented architects at HDR, a firm with extensive experience designing libraries, academic buildings, community centres, health facilities, and more. VIRL has awarded Nanaimo-based Island West Coast Developments (IWCD) as the general contractor to oversee the project. IWCD has more than 30 years’ experience managing projects for a wide variety of services and clients.

The budget of $7.5 million includes the cost of construction, furnishings, technology infrastructure, and site preparation. Funding was secured through a loan from the Municipal Finance Authority to the Capital Regional District who transferred the borrowing proceeds to VIRL.

Jeff Bateman
District of Sooke Councillor Jeff Bateman sits on the VIRL Board.

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 Sooke taxpayers alone through their regional district contribution.

Completion date to be determined:

Looking ahead, the next step is to work with IWCD on a construction timeline, which will be shared with the public when it becomes available. The latest news and updates about this project will be posted in the Capital Projects area of virl.bc.ca

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