Don Denton/Victoria News A large crew of construction workers move among the rebar and scaffolding on the site of the Capital Park office

James Bay library closer to reality

A new library branch in James Bay is one step closer to becoming a reality.

A new library branch in James Bay is one step closer to becoming a reality.

During a meeting last week, council unanimously approved the budget for a library branch in the Capital Park development behind the legislature.

The budget has three components: one-time capital costs, including tenant improvements, furniture, fixtures and equipment, and net of contributions from the landlord, which are estimated at $1.5 million and required in 2017; on-going lease costs are estimated at $232,000; and the city’s share of on-going operating costs, including library staffing, which is estimated at $110,000 and required in 2018. The remainder of the library’s operating budget would be shared between the 10 municipalities that are currently part of the library service.

“Each branch enhances the system as a whole. We’re learning as we go in terms of what people need in their libraries,” said Coun. Pam Madoff, noting the success of the Westhills branch that recently opened. “It’s an exciting day for the library system, residents of James Bay, any library users and folks who are not using the library who will find this much more accessible.”

As part of the 1994 Victoria Accord, the province and the City of Victoria agreed to establish a vision and plan for Capital Park and other small parcels of land located behind the legislature, which would include community amenities such as a library.

An agreement between developer Jawl Properties and the city, allows the city to lease space for the library and earlier this year, council directed staff to negotiate a lease for a full-sized library branch.

“The whole neighbourhood will be very pleased that the city is now committed to proceeding with the 20-year promise of an amentity at Capital Park,” said Marg Gardiner, president of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association, who has been advocating for an amenity for several years.

“I think it will provide the community with a public space where each resident is equal and can use it. I think it will be wonderful.”

The branch is estimated to be open by 2017. Kevin Murdoch, chair of the GVPL board, called the development is “exciting times.”

The Capital Park development is a mixed-used, residential and commercial project. The first phase of the development includes the construction of a five-storey, 117,000-square foot government office building with ground floor retail space and a four-storey, 53 unit residential building, also with ground floor retail. Red Barn also recently announced it will be opening a location as part of the project.

The budget still needs to get final approval from city council.