Skyrocketing costs may shelve library plan

Soaring costs may put a new Vernon library out of reach.

An architect’s report suggests a new library/municipal office building could cost $28 million, up substantially from the earlier anticipated $18 million.

“Every councillor went, ‘Oh, my God,’ when they saw the $28 million,” said Coun. Jack Gilroy.

Gilroy has been a strong advocate of constructing a three-storey building between the existing library and city hall. But the price tag has dampened his enthusiasm.

“We will have to see if we can afford it,” he said, adding one option may be to apply for government grants.

Gilroy believes the price may have climbed because of the growing cost of construction in B.C., and he admits it could change again.

The architect’s report just reinforces Coun. Barry Beardsell’s opposition to the building.

“It (cost) doesn’t surprise me at all and such a building would ruin the civic complex,” said Beardsell.

Beardsell believes the city-owned Coldstream Hotel property should be considered for the library, but that still doesn’t resolve the issue of finances.

“With the enormous costs, Okanagan Regional Library will likely expect city taxpayers to subsidize the facility in a major way, which is like double taxation on the citizens of Vernon,” said Beardsell, pointing out that local taxpayers not only pay city taxes but also directly fund ORL.

Despite the bottom line, Gilroy insists something still needs to be done for the library, which is undersized for the community.

“It makes sense logistically to put it there,” he said of the site’s proximity to city hall, which is also at capacity.

It’s expected the architect’s report will go before the Okanagan Regional Library board Feb. 21 for consideration.

“We have to make sure the library wants to go into it,” said Gilroy.

Carol Williams, ORL chairman, was caught off guard when she learned about the potential cost of $28 million.

“We’ll have to take another look at things,” she said.

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