Hantsport council approaching library dilemma with caution

Ashley Thompson
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The site of the former Hantsport Legion is being considered for the town's public library. (File photo)

Hantsport’s town council is entertaining the idea of moving the public library to the former Lucknow Branch No. 109 legion building.

Coun. Margot Bureaux tabled a motion asking her colleagues to accept the town-owned legion building as the future site of the Hantsport Public Library at a council meeting Jan. 7.

Bureaux made the motion on behalf of Deputy Mayor Harold Bulger, who serves on the joint library committee that singled out the legion building as the best location for a stand-alone library within the town. Bulger was absent due to a family matter.

Coun. Rob Frederick was quick to second Bureaux’s motion, but clarified that the directive does not mean the town is making a financial commitment to the project at this time.

Mayor Robbie Zwicker cautioned that while an agreement supporting the move in principal is “great,” council will need to see more concrete estimates detailing how much it will cost the town to turn the legion building into a public library.

Bureaux said the library committee could only start to invite neighbouring municipalities to support the project once Hantsport’s council has made a decision about the location of the library.

“We were directed from other councils that our council had to first approve the building,” she explained.

The library committee believes the legion building is the best possible place for the town to establish a stand-alone library at the lowest cost, Bureaux continued.

“The fact that it was built as a legion has it at the same specifications for load-bearing as to what a library needs, so that is huge.”

Zwicker maintained his stance that council will require more information about the cost of upgrading the legion building before an informed decision can be made.

“I have no doubt that it’s a perfect location but, I just got to say, that it all comes down to dollars and cents,” he said.

“There is no cost associated at this time,” replied Bureaux. “The motion is to accept the legion building.”

Coun. Faye Hill echoed the mayor’s concerns.

“I have no doubt in the future of the public library, Coun. Bureaux, but I cannot make a decision with too many unknowns on the financial side,” Hill said.

Bureaux said a steering committee would be formed to calculate a true estimate of what it would cost to transform the building into a public library.

Zwicker listed a fresh-air ventilation system, washroom upgrades and the installation of an accessibility ramp as a few of the improvements that would be required, and asked if some research has been done to ensure the renovation estimates received so far reflect reasonable rates.

“I really believe you should have a proper study done that says here’s what we’re planning to do, here’s what the costs are,” the mayor said.

Bureaux revised her motion by adding a line stating that the move is conditional on council’s approval of building renovation plans and estimates.

The motion passed 4-1, with only Zwicker voting in opposition. Along with Bulger, Coun. Shannon Cunningham was also absent for the vote. 

The library must be removed from Hantsport School by no later than 2015.

 

Organizations: Hantsport council, Hantsport Public Library, Hantsport School

Geographic location: Hantsport, Hants County, Nova Scotia

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