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Library dominates budget discussion

Peter Crnogorac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 15/06) - Ideas on what should be done with the library were debated at length during a draft budget reading Wednesday night at City Hall.

Council opened the meeting by discussing the library, and didn't stop until about an hour-and-a-half later when the mayor said, "It's time we moved on."
NNSL Photo/graphic

Library manager Deborah Bruser enjoys a book at the new teen section of the Centre Square Mall on Thursday. Council members discussed ideas on what type of funding is needed for either a new library or renovations to the current one Wednesday night at a budget meeting. - Peter Crnogorac/NNSL photo

Mayor Gord Van Tighem, who was chairing the meeting, began the line-by-line reading of the 2007 draft budget by announcing that the capital project section would be discussed.

Minutes later, Coun. Kevin Kennedy said, "I want to make a point about the library...I think if we put money into the library study we can reduce what we are spending on renovations for the (current) library."

The Friends of the Library, a local advocacy group, asked council at a special public meeting in November for about $75,000 for a study to determine whether a new library is needed, and, if so, where exactly it should go.

In the 2007 draft budget, under the capital projects section, $451,000 is in place for library renovations to the current library located in Centre Square Mall.

If a new library is decided on, the yet to be built Somba K'e Civic Centre is one proposed location.

Coun. Bob Brooks and Kennedy countered each other as they discussed the library section of the budget.

"If we have intentions of building a new library, I don't want to put $451,000 into a library we won't be using in 10 years," Brooks said. "Basically, council has to decide whether or not we want a library. If we do, then we'll go ahead with the study."

Kennedy said he agreed that not all of the $451,000 is needed for renovating the library, but cautioned council not to yank the whole amount.

"The carpets in the library are literally being held together by duct tape, he said. "There's actual raw sewage leaking from the ceiling onto the annex seating area.

Coun. Dave McCann said he thought the main issue with the current library is its access.

"I'm not particularly convinced we need a new library," he said.

McCann explained that the public has made it known that they don't like walking by "the culture of people that stand around there," and suggested another alternative.

"Why don't we look at having an escalator from the street going right into there," he asked. "It takes an off-grade location and makes it accessible."

Kennedy said all the points made could be looked at through the proposed library study.

Council ended the debate by deciding to revisit the study discussion sometime before the budget is finalized next week.