Excitement is building in Chemainus along with the actual construction taking place at the site of the new Vancouver Island Regional Library building for the community.
Stakeholders gathered at 9796 Willow St. in downtown Chemainus Monday morning for the official launch of the long-awaited project.
“It’s so good to see shovels in the ground and finally getting down the journey with the community of Chemainus,” said VIRL executive director Rosemary Bonanno.
“To see construction officially underway is a huge development for the community and library staff,” noted Brenda Leigh, chair of the VIRL’s board of trustees. “For a project of this scope, there are many players and milestones, and I would like to thank everyone for their dedication and commitment. This is an exciting day for VIRL and the entire Chemainus community.”
The Sidney-based contractors, CCM Construction Ltd., began the actual physical work at the site two weeks ago.
“This is our crew here – five of us – and all the trades will be coming in once we get going,” said the company’s site supervisor Matt Duhamel.
All going well and according to projections, he figures the building will be completed by late 2019 and certainly well in advance to provide the community with a nice Christmas present.
The VIRL has been keeping up with the times with many new buildings and refurbishments in recent years, including Lake Cowichan in 2014.
Changing times have meant changing facilities to accommodate the public’s useage requirements for libraries today.
“We’ve got a consolidated facilities master plan that guides us through this process,” said Bonanno.
“We want to ensure we’ve got appropriate spaces that community members can meet or for quiet study.
“The design encompasses what people continually are looking for – a place to meet and gather,” she added. “If you want to come and curl up and read a book, you can.”
That’s one of the functions that excites Chemainus Business Improvement Association president Chris Istace the most. To have a reading space like the one at the Duncan branch within the Cowichan Community Centre is invaluable.
“I’ve always been a huge advocate and the BIA has been for this building,” he indicated.
“When we bring that over to a business perspective, businesses thrive off healthy foundations.”
The library is viewed as becoming a key cornerstone of the community.
“The amount of tourists, cyclists and people discovering Chemainus, this will be right here in the heart of the community,” said Istace.
“The biggest long-range thing is it actually fits in with the Chemainus revitalization plan from years ago.”
The new library will feature furniture, IT infrastructure, a vibrant children’s area, a laptop bar, a bookable multi-purpose room and so much more in 5,000 square feet of floor space.
“This building is going to be modern and innovative and a wonderful asset for the people of Chemainus,” noted Municipality of North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. “The wait can often be long for big projects like this to get off the ground, so to see that construction has begun is incredibly exciting.”
“It just evolves, this is the information age,” reasoned Bonanno. “It’s the key to success on so many levels.
“We’re here to support that need and with the diversity of an electronic collection we can expose our customers to a wider depth of information.
“It’s just going to beat expectations, I feel.”