By Alison Taylor
With little debate council Monday unanimously approved moving ahead with the new library despite a $1.2 million budget increase to the now $8.1 million project.
And they agreed to investigate a ÒgreenÓ roof option which could add $50,000 in capital costs to the building, with an annual ongoing maintenance fee of up to $8,000. It is hoped the capital cost could be absorbed in the budget or funded externally.
The increase to the budget is due to ever-increasing construction costs, a phenomenon affecting the industry across the province.
At Monday's council meeting Councillor Kristi Wells asked staff if the municipality could realize some cost savings in rising construction costs by stockpiling materials. Staff is keen to explore that option.
ÒThat is one strategy we'd like to implement,Ó said Martin Pardoe, municipal parks planner.
Wells also asked about the budget for ongoing operational costs, such as the landscaping in the nearby park and the green roof. She was told those costs will most likely be absorbed by the municipality but have yet to be accounted for in the budget.
And so, with few questions but kudos from council, the library project got the final go-ahead on Monday night with the adoption of the rezoning bylaw and approval of a development permit.
The decision was met with a smattering of applause from library board members in the audience.
Ò(I'm) absolutely thrilled,Ó said Library Board Chair Anne Townley the following day. ÒJust so excited and really pleased that it was (a) unanimous (decision)É for the budget and for the development permit.Ó
At the meeting council was once again reminded that the proposed library is a durable, straightforward and efficient design, which will meet the needs of Whistler's diverse community.
It will sit on the parking lot directly opposite the Delta Whistler Village Suites and Milestones, close to the rickety trailers that now house WhistlerÕs public library and museum.
ÒThere's nothing fancy about it,Ó said Dallas Cristofoli, a director on the library board, who was part of the presentation to council Monday.
She said its 12,000 square foot size, the use of space and the building program, are comparable to other libraries in B.C., such as those in Fernie and Squamish.
The building is designed to get a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, by using such things as geothermal heating and cooling, maximizing natural light and using local materials.
Architect Darryl Condon, of Vancouver-based Hughes Condon Marler Architects, the same architects who designed the Spring Creek Fire Hall, explained the design to council.
The L-shape of the building he said was used to maximize solar access as well as allowing the building to front Main Street on two sides. The library will back onto a park, which will be integrated into the project.
Ò(It's) really an oasis in the centre of the village,Ó said Condon.
That oasis as designed has a metal roof. New research, however, shows the increased capital costs for changing that metal roof to a green roof arenÕt as high as staff originally anticipated. It will cost an additional $50,000 for the green roof, with ongoing maintenance costs between $5,000 and $8,000 per year.
ÒThe green roof has obvious environmental benefits,Ó said Pardoe.
In his report to council he explained that while metal roofs have little or no annual maintenance costs and also have long life spans, the green roof could prove more efficient in terms of the cost of the roof over the lifespan of the library building.
In addition, there could be cost savings by getting rid of heat tracing in the metal roof which could offset the increased maintenance costs of a green roof. Those savings would be in the $500 per year range.
With council's blessing on Monday night, staff will now confirm the costs for a green roof and look at ways to fund the $50,000 capital increase, either from within the project budget or through external funding.
With the development permit now in place, work is expected to get underway by the end of May/beginning of June.
For the board, the decision has been a long time in coming for a project, which has seen numerous setbacks and changes through its inception.
ÒIt's taken a long time to get to this stage and now we're going to see a shovel in the ground within the month,Ó said an elated Townley. ÒThis is a momentous event so we're very excited about it.Ó
Businesses and properties next to the site can go to a pre-construction meeting on Wednesday, May 18 at 10 a.m. in the Whistler Public Library (trailer) to talk about project scheduling and construction site management.