Saturday October 17, 2020 | SOOKE, BC
by Mary Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
After months of planning, negotiations, refinements, and fine-tuning the design, construction on the new library on Wadams Way in Sooke is set to start.
During the week of October 19, workers will begin by preparing site surveys, clearing trees and brush, cutting in an access road, and mobilizing the site for construction.
“For many in the community, this day has been a long time coming,” says Brenda Leigh, Chair of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) Board of Trustees. “I expect the people of Sooke will watch with interest and excitement as this important capital project takes shape. In a year like no other, it is especially heartening to move forward with such a well needed and long awaited community amenity.”
The plan for the new library encompasses all aspects of the project, including construction, furniture, IT infrastructure, and more.
Library is part of community growth:
“We have a clear vision for the future development and growth of our community,” said Sooke Mayor Maja Tait in a VIRL news release. “A vibrant and modern library was an important piece in our plans — I have full confidence that with this library, we are setting the wheels in motion for ongoing and sustainable development of Lot A, the Wadams Way corridor, and surrounding area.”
Evolution of a new library for Sooke (one of 27 within the VIRL cluster of branches around Vancouver Island) has taken over 10 years, under the leadership of three mayors (Janet Evans, Wendal Milne, and Maja Tait).
More than a handful of public input meetings were held over the years, drawing crowds to Sooke Community Hall (upstairs and down) and the present leased-space Sooke Library on Anna Marie Road, all of them attended by Island Social Trends editor Mary Brooke (going back over the years when we were West Shore Voice News, and before that Sooke Voice News and before that MapleLine Magazine). It’s history.
The long-term journey was impacted by the community interests over balance of rural-urban lifestyle goals, but more so who would pay (VIRL builds a new library but needs a municipality to step up with land).
Time is money. During all those years VIRL continued to lease space for the present library location, and the District of Sooke council wiled away countless hours of various aspects of land-use debate and budget considerations not to mention time of planning staff and the valuable time of community members who responded to multiple surveys, public input sessions in person and online. Raised hopes were dashed many times. There is a public goodwill cost to that as well.
Once built, VIRL communications rep David Carson says that Sooke will have a state-of-the-art library with the following features and amenities:
- 13,412 sq ft will offer a diverse collection, multi-use 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
Steady hand at the helm:
“As someone who has been working on this file for years, there were times when I wondered whether we would ever get to this day,” says Rosemary Bonanno, VIRL’s Executive Director.
“In every way, this has been a true team effort and I would like to thank District of Sooke staff, our Board of Trustees, Sooke Mayor and Council, VIRL staff, and, of course, the community for never losing sight of the end goal. This new library will evolve and complement Sooke’s ongoing transition into a destination of choice for people living and visiting south of the Malahat,” said Bonanno this week.
Take a look:
Renderings of the new library and more information about the project available here.
Projecting outward, the new library is likely to open to the public in the spring of 2022.
Public input on new library hours:
Public input about what local Sooke residents would like the hours of the new Sooke Library to be is open to November 30 online.