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Sooke Library development dealing with permit hurdle

New library for Sooke winds through another cycle of delays

Sooke Library, exterior, sketch
The planned new Sooke Library aims to achieve 21st-century aspects of design and function [Artist's sketch - Vancouver Island Library Board]

Saturday, June 15, 2019 ~ SOOKE

~ Mary P Brooke, West Shore Voice News

A new library for the community of Sooke continues to march towards construction. Revisions to the development permit were submitted to the District of Sooke earlier in June, says Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) communications rep David Carson.

“The District will review the revised development permit application and if there are no further revisions, the application will be presented to Council for approval,” said Carson on June 11.

“We recognize that the public is eager to see the new Sooke library take shape,” says Brenda Leigh, Chair of the Vancouver Island Regional Library Board of Trustees. “VIRL staff are working closely with the District of Sooke to get the development permit approved as soon as possible and are confident in the road ahead. I would like to thank everyone in the community for their patience and understanding as VIRL and District staff have moved this project forward.”

Earlier’s architect’s rendering of the new Sooke Library exterior (when construction was set to start in Fall 2018).

The Sooke branch as a priority project of VIRL’s board has been under a sustained period of intensive development for some time. Local public input — through various cycles — goes back as far as 2011.

Providing land for the build proved to be a challenge for the District of Sooke, finally settling a few years ago on carving off about one acre of land from “Lot A” along Wadams Way, backing onto the Evergreen Shopping Centre. The unlevel land was cleared of a dense grove of alders and forest brush last year.

VIRL’s business model is that the municipality provides the land upon which VIRL builds a new facility and full equips it for public use.

The “longer-than-expected design phase caused the timeline to shift from earlier projections,” it was stated in a VIRL release.

The existing Sooke Library in a leased space on Anna Marie Road is too small to provide services to a growing community (West Shore Voice News file photo).
children's books, Sooke Library, VIRL
Children’s book section at the Sooke Library [West Shore Voice News photo, January 2019]

The original design for the library also needed to be modified to remain in-line with the budget, which further extended the design phase. VIRL says it has worked closely with the architect and other consultants to refine the design and bring it in-line with budgets and the District’s Official Community Plan, while retaining the unique circular design and 21st-century library requirements that the community was so excited about.

“Capital projects of this magnitude are always challenging,” says Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. “But at the end of the day, everyone is committed to building a new library that the community will be proud of. It’s important to get it right, and I have been impressed by the agility, adaptability, and resilience of VIRL and District staff to navigate the complexities of this project. By working together, we will ensure that Sooke has a state-of-the-art library to evolve with the community for decades to come,” Tait was quoted in the VIRL release.

VIRL says it plans to tender the construction in the near future, the results of which will determine the construction schedule and other key milestones.