The construction contract for a new public library in Sooke will be awarded by mid-July, with work beginning in late summer or early fall, officials say.
Due to the size and complexity of the project, the Vancouver Island Regional Library pre-qualified 11 contractors for bidding.
“Absolutely, it’s really good news,” Coun. Jeff Bateman, Sooke’s representative on the library board, said Thursday.
The library will be built on one-acre of a five-acre lot, along Wadams Way, owned by the district. The district bought the land in 2016 for $1.42 million.
The design of the Sooke library is a departure from the “cookie-cutter libraries” that are built elsewhere, say VIRL officials.
The $6-million building will have a circular design. It’s clad in natural colors with ocean views and large windows to allow for natural light throughout the facility.
Inside the 10,000-square-foot building (more than triple the size of the current facility on Anna Marie Road), there’s expanded adult, teen and children’s sections. Other public amenities include a multi-purpose room that holds up to 50 people, a study room, laptop bar and public computer stations.
The library concept has been in the works for years, and deemed a “top priority” by VIRL since 2010, Bateman said.
However, it has sometimes been fraught with political indecisiveness and unforeseen delays.
The project appeared to move ahead four years ago when the municipality bought Lot A on Wadams Way, but delays then centered on a possible location to SEAPARC.
The project was further delayed in late 2017 when the regional library needed to do emergency repairs on other branches due to asbestos contamination. Expectations were library construction would begin in 2019.
Vancouver Island has been under a sustained period of intensive development for some time. This, combined with a longer-than-expected design phase, caused the timeline to shift from earlier projections, Bateman said.
“It’s a big public project, and it involves two professional staff working together to leads us to the best possible outcome,” he said.
”VIRL is a professional organization, and we can be confident it’s going to happen.”
Construction is expected to take 18 months.