City to reconsider land options for branch library

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Construction process pushed back several weeks

The city will once again consider options for a construction site for its new branch library, delaying the process several weeks.

Council voted in favour of Coun. Cam MacKay’s motion to explore options to use city reserve land, and to have developer proposals submitted to council with administrative comments and recommendations.

“I just want to make sure all the financial due diligence gets done on this,” he said.

The motion passed 4-3 with councillors Sheena Hughes, Bob Russell and Mayor Nolan Crouse also in support. Development services manager Gilles Prefontaine told council an administrative report was set to come to council March 6, but would now be delayed until the end of March.

Council received a confidential information package Oct. 3, 2016, outlining options for the land with an administrative recommendation, but at the time rejected those recommendations 4-3 with the vote split along the same lines as this one.

When MacKay first brought this motion forward Jan. 9, Coun. Bob Russell said Landrex had brought forward a proposal with respect to the branch library, but that council had not yet discussed it.

Landrex president Jim Sheasgreen confirmed the company wants to work with the city to secure the library on one of its sites, but said the details of the proposal are currently confidential.

Coun. Tim Osborne said he agreed with exploring all the options, but said this would essentially double up on a process that has already taken place.

“I can’t support this motion, in that it’s asking us to redo work that’s already been completed,” Osborne said. “Frankly it just stalls the process further if we keep going back.”

Hughes and Russell echoed the arguments MacKay put forward, highlighting the need for fiscal responsibility and the need to explore options that might cost the city less than the recommendation council had already rejected.

Russell referred to “a parcel of land on the north side” that had not been considered as an option, and Hughes suggested if the city saved money on the land there would be an opportunity to revise the proposed floor plan of the new library, which she said she was not happy with.

“I don’t see this as an additional delay, just asking administration to go over this one more time prior to the actual discussion,” Hughes said.

Brodhead, meanwhile, took the same position as Osborne with respect to getting on with the project, which council approved as part of the 2017 budget.

“This council has made a decision to move forward and start the process of construction on this particular project,” Brodhead said. “I recognize that for some in our community it’s controversial, but for a large part of or community, it’s not.”

Crouse argued the motion would actually get the ball rolling on the project, since right now there is no council direction with respect to where the library should be built.

“The staff don’t have any direction other than to bring forward the borrowing bylaw,” he said. “I thought this was going to advance the initiative, and give staff direction to find land.”

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Doug Neuman