After years of coping with an extremely cramped building, the Summerland Library will soon have a new and larger location.
On Thursday afternoon, the site of the new location was announced on Main Street.
A new building will be constructed at the site of the existing Summerland Arts Centre and the Giant’s Head Automotive buildings.
“It has been a long time in coming,” said Catherine Lord, newly elected chair of the Okanagan Regional Library board.
The search for a new library for Summerland began around 10 years ago.
The cost of the new facility is estimated at $3.2 million. The money will come from the regional library’s building fund.
Construction will begin later this year with the work to be completed in 2015.
The automotive building and the arts centre will both be demolished to make room for the new library.
The land area is 2,140 square metres.
The new library building will be around 743 square metres. The present library was built in 1981. It has an area of 316 square metres, less than half the total size required for a community of this size.
Access is difficult for some since the library is on the second floor of its building. A wheelchair ramp is in place.
The library sees plenty of activity throughout the year. In 2013, there were 70,203 visits to the Summerland library. There are 6,381 registered users and there is participation in many library programs.
The new building will meet the community’s present needs and will also allow for some additional growth.
Lord said the library board wants input from the community before proceeding with the construction, in order to create a design which reflects the needs and wishes of the community.
“The library is supposed to be the living room of the community,” she said.
She added that the location is ideal.
“This is better than any of the other spots we looked at,” she said.
When construction begins, the arts centre will be moved to a vacant building on Main Street near Victoria Road. This will be an interim site during the search for a permanent location for the arts centre.
Julie McGuire, long-range planner for the municipality, said the need for a larger library had been discussed for many years, but previously a Wharton Street site had been suggested.
The library was to be part of the proposed Wharton Street development. However, the development failed on two separate occasions, both times before any construction had started.
McGuire said the new library will be a benefit to the downtown core.
“That will be the first new building on Main Street in many years,” she said. “I think it will really help our downtown.
The relocation of the arts centre will also help to give it some additional exposure, she added.
Mayor Janice Perrino said the new facility will help to generate activity in Summerland’s downtown area.
“I can’t begin to tell you what it will do for Main Street and the economic boom it will bring,” she said. “It couldn’t be better.”
For the Summerland Community Arts Council, the announcement means some significant changes will be in the works this year.
The arts centre has been in its present location, Summerland’s former municipal hall, for 16 years. The building is used for numerous gallery shows, workshops and meetings.
“Our concern is what happens in the transition period,” said David Finnis, president of the arts council.
Perrino said the arts council and the Summerland Potters’ Guild, which uses the lower level of the building, have been understanding and cooperative.
She added that Sean and Colleen Greenwood of Giant’s Head Automotive also deserve credit for their part in the project.