Whistler has seen its share
of ribbon cuttings in recent years, but few events have attracted as much
attention as the opening of the Whistler Public Library this past Saturday,
The ceremony started outside,
with a crowd of more than 300 people waiting to get their first glimpse of the
inside of the building. Mayor Ken Melamed and library board chair Alix Nicoll
did the honours cutting the ribbon, then invited the public inside for
speeches, refreshments, music, a performance by the Short Skirt Theatre,
readings by locals authors, and a tour of the facility. A steady stream of
people took out new library cards at the front desk, while community members
took out thousands of books, CDs, and DVDs using the new scanner and radio tags
It’s been almost 22 years
since Joan Richoz started the first public library in the basement of municipal
hall, before the facility moved into a pair of trailers off of Main Street.
Although trailers were supposed to be temporary until the library could build a
permanent facility, that proved more challenging than expected. At last, in
2004 the sitting council approved a new library building on the lot beside the
existing library, for a $7 million price tag. With construction costs soaring
across B.C. due to the stiff competition for workers and materials, however,
the final cost will be over $11 million.
Part of the blame has been
assumed by members of the previous council that approved the library under a
construction management model that allowed local companies to bid on aspects of
the construction, rather than the fixed price model recommended by municipal
staff. With the construction boom, the bids attracted less interest and
competition than council expected.
In his speech to open the
library, Melamed acknowledged that it was a challenging project but praised the
“It’s been a long time
coming, but I think you’ll feel it’s been worth the wait,” he said, giving
credit to past councils and community members that made the library a
“It’s been 15 years of
work to get a permanent facility…This council is the one that gets to cut the
ribbon, but we wouldn’t be here without the work of past councils.”
The mayor also took the
opportunity to defend the project and project managers from past criticisms,
noting that it takes thick skin and perseverance to get a project this big and
complicated off the ground.
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