Chemainus revitalization in the spotlight

Meeting to address library issue and other plan elements

Residents say the potential for obscuring views of murals like this one is one reason to reject the idea of a library in Waterwheel Park.

Unrest about maybe building Chemainus’ modern new library in Waterwheel Park will be aired during tonight’s special council meeting at Chemainus high school.

But Mural Town’s bigger book building — whether built on public land at Waterwheel, the old firehall site, or elsewhere — is one of 19 projects detailed in the draft Chemainus Town Centre Revitalization Plan.

“There’s no final design for anything right now,” said Mayor Tom Walker. “There’ll be more public consultation on the library and each part of the revitalization.”

He cited proposed streetscapes, seaside boardwalks, a skate park and rebuilding of Kin Park.

Tuesday’s meeting will see presentations on Chemainus advisory committee recommendations, then questions answered by staff, consultants and councillors. Chemainus Chamber of Commerce members questioned the idea of the Vancouver Island Library Board building the facility at Waterwheel if 50-odd parking stalls are lost, plus views of two big murals.

“There’ll be no covering up of any murals,” vowed Walker.

“But the bottom line is,” visitor-centre manager Marlie Kelsey said of parking loss, “as pedestrian friendly as we want to make it, we can’t forget we’re a tourist town and depend on tourist dollars coming into the community.

“We support building the library in the old fire-hall building.”

So did Johanna Reymerink, Chemainus Museum’s president.

“If the library goes in Waterwheel’s parking lot, taking away 50 parking spots, it’s crazy,” she said of the park’s current 80-some stalls. We want the library out of the revitalization plan, and into the old fire hall.”

Tentative plans see the fire hall as ground-level commercial space, mixed housing above, and possible heritage preservation, Walker explained.

Museum members have $53,000 for a three-storey facility they want expanded toward the park’s lookout.

The chamber has a 100-name petition against the library at Waterwheel, and the idea came under fire during an all-candidates forum in Chemainus Tuesday.

Walker doubted tax hikes as the library board would build the new facility. Waterwheel landscaping can happen “but not raised sidewalks so it (lot) can be multi-use (markets, music and more.)”

Tonight’s meeting is set for 7 p.m. at Chemainus Secondary School. Call North Cowichan at 250-746-3100 for more.

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