Our town got some excellent news in last week’s provincial budget. We are finally getting a new public library, and while the announcement didn’t generate headlines, it is big news here in Conception Bay South.
The details on the location, cost and funding from the province have not yet been released, but we do know a new library will replace the little green building next to the town hall that has served as our library since 1975.
The long-waited announcement is welcome news for the C.B.S. council, the provincial library board, the local library board and a recently formed citizens committee that were advocating for a new library.
Before going any further I need to say that I am a volunteer member of the C.B.S. public library board, and I am only commenting on the public information about the road to a new library.
The history of the C.B.S. Library and efforts to get new space were both presented at a public meeting in November attended by more than 150 people. The local board, which reports to the provincial libraries board, held the meeting to let residents know that despite efforts of the local and provincial board and the town, they could not get a commitment from the province for a new library.
Work to get a new library began in 1985 and got serious in the late 1990s when the town was proposing to build a new town hall and community centre.
When plans for that new building were finalized in 2002, they included a spacious modern library which would serve the needs of the growing community of 20,000 at that time.
Unfortunately as the town hall got closer to reality, several councillors convinced their colleagues that the town really could not afford a building and should hold a referendum on whether the town should proceed with the building project.
The town hall project was voted down in a 2003 community referendum. The funding went to other town projects, and now more than 10 years later the town is going to build a new town hall.
The town hall, community centre and library of 2003 would have cost about $8 million.
The new town hall to be built later this year will cost perhaps more than twice that amount and will house only administrative offices. The new building does not include a library or community centre.
The Town of C.B.S. hoped to incorporate a library into the town hall to be built next to the C.B.S. Recreation Complex. However, the design for the building had to proceed without the library when the province would not commit any funding.
It all changed last week when the provincial government finally added a new library to the budget. Tenders have been called for a new town hall, so whether the library is built as an addition or separate building somewhere in town will be among the details to be released.
Libraries are more than just books — they are learning, social, technology and community centres. They are the core of many cities and towns, and we are now finally closer to having such a library here in C.B.S.
Volunteers will get special treatment next week as Volunteer Week is celebrated from April 6-12 here in C.B.S. and throughout the province. Our town’s annual volunteer recognition event is next Thursday at the Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre when our Youth Volunteer of the Year will be named.
Tickets are now available for the Topsail United Church Good Friday fish cake luncheon on Friday, April 18 at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $12 each and can be obtained by calling the church office at 834-4567.
Joan Butler is a lifelong resident
of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South.
She can be reached by email