Local businesses propose partnering with town, county in new Kentville Library space

Councillor questions whether new county offices could be located on site

John Decoste jdecoste@kingscountynews.ca
Published on June 18, 2015
Will Marshall, right, and Greg Whynot during their June 16 presentation to county council’s Committee of the Whole. The group Whynot and Marshall represent wants to construct a building that could serve in part as a new public library, and wants the county and the Town of Kentville to support the proposal. 
John DeCoste

KENTVILLE - A consortium of local companies is interested in constructing a new building to contain a new library for Kentville and area, and partnering with both the town and the municipality.

Greg Whynot and Will Marshall, representing the group, made a presentation to county council’s June 16 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The current Kentville Library is 2,175 square feet.

“(That’s) less than the minimum level C standard for a library serving a municipal population of 1,500-5,000,” Whynot and Marshall told county council in the presentation.

The Kentville Library, they pointed out, serves patrons from both the town and the county.

“A library today is different than a library of 10-15 years ago,” they said, adding that the current space is too small.

Today’s libraries “are more community centres” or community meeting places than simply a place to house reading, study and entertainment materials.

“The municipality’s vision for the future space will reinforce the library’s role as a community anchor, a destination, and a lively gathering place,” council was told.

Their group, Whynot and Marshall said, is looking at constructing “a purpose-ready building, based on an integrated design” and utilizing the latest green technology.

The new library space will be designed to accommodate the growing service base, with a minimum of 2,500 square feet and an additional shared 1,500 square feet.

It will be built for “what we actually need, rather than putting up a building and making it work.”

The group, which includes Maverick Communications, Kent Fields Rental Properties, Thermo Homes and Equilibrium Engineering, is looking for space to meet their own needs – space, they have determined, that does not currently exist locally.

The proposal is to construct a new, high-performance, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified commercial building in Kentville, with customized space to meet the needs of the Kentville Library.

The proposed site for the building is at 133 River Street, on the north side of the street opposite the police station.

Coun. Pauline Raven asked how flexible the group might be willing to be.

“We’ll be looking for a new municipal complex, which might include a library as well as office space. I’d be interested in hearing more about your plans,” she said.

The purchase of land for a new municipal complex was on the discussion for an in camera session later in the evening, but quorum was not met after Raven and two other councillors left. 

Whynot said the group “would be open to (constructing) a larger building. Our goal is to get more office space for us, plus hopefully partner with a new library.”

Marshall agreed.

“The idea would be to open it up,” he said. “There’s no point in constructing a purpose-built building without a purpose.”

Whynot and Marshall added that the town is behind the idea. The purpose of the presentation was to gauge the interest of the municipality.

“We wanted to bring the idea to council to see what partnership potential there might be,” he said.

County chief administrative officer Tom MacEwan said the county “has had preliminary discussions with the town.” He anticipated being able to bring a recommendation to county council at its committee meeting in July.

Most of Kentville town council was in attendance, including Mayor Dave Corkum. Corkum said the town was “certainly very excited about this building and this group.”

The current library, he said, “is way undersized. They would like to triple (the existing space). We’re supporting doubling it,” he said.

There are challenges with that, Corkum pointed out.

“Even that is more than we, as a town, can afford. We’re looking for the county to be a partner,” he said.

“This group is growing, with a lot of property in the county, and this (project) is something that is very, very needed. It can be called whatever you like.  We’re just looking for your financial support.”

Warden Diana Brothers accepted the recommendation, and said she anticipated councillors having a recommendation to discuss at the July committee meeting.