library museum 

By Alix Noble Plans for a new Whistler library and museum are on hold until municipal council offers some direction, but council doesn’t seem too interested. A joint building committee for the Whistler Public Library and the Whistler Museum and Archives recently released a feasibility study for a new library/museum complex, but needs to meet with the municipality to determine exactly where a new complex fits in with municipal plans. "A multi-million dollar project needs to be done in concert with the municipality, a partnership needs to be developed," said Dan Greene, head of the library/museum joint building committee. "We've taken it as far as we can without involvement of the municipality, we're waiting for direction and a statement of support." However, Mayor Ted Nebbeling said this week the library is run by a private society and while council has supported the board, it has not been involved in any decisions the board makes. "The municipality has no plans to build a library/museum facility and we are not studying what type of facility is required," Nebbeling said. The building committee has sent a request for a workshop with council members. The targeted completion date for the library/museum building is Fall 1999. However, without a site or specifics worked out with the municipality, the building committee needs to meet with council soon to keep on that schedule. "If it isn't dealt with prior to municipal elections, it won't be done until next year," said Greene. Library and museum supporters are hoping to move from their portables to a new facility on Lot 1 in Village North. The site, which is owned by the municipality, has been designated for a cultural or recreational facility, but no one has put forward specific plans. It was proposed as a hockey rink before the Meadow Park Sports Centre was built. Earlier this year various arts groups met a couple of times to review what their needs and desires would be as far as a cultural facility, but no consensus was reached. Nebbeling has said in the past he thinks a cultural facility on Lot 1 should be a multi-discipline facility, perhaps combining the library, museum, a theatre and art gallery and a restaurant. The museum has budgeted $1 million for a cultural facility in its capital review to buildout, to be spent in 1999 or 2000. Meanwhile, the library/museum building committee hopes to undertake a capital fund-raising campaign and apply for provincial grants to build the new complex, said Anne Fenwick, chair of the Whistler Public Library board. The museum is also eligible for federal grants, but until the committee knows what support it will get from the municipality it can't estimate how much money it needs to raise. The new complex is projected to cost over $3 million. The Whistler Public Library is currently a member of the Public Library Association, and can only receive limited operating funding from the municipality. Should the library become a municipal library, it would receive most of its operating funding from municipal taxes. "It's recognized on both sides that municipal status is an inevitability," said Greene. "We are now exceeding the possibility of functioning as a volunteer organization." The library receives $60,914 as a grant in aid from the municipality, which results in a per capita figure of $9.66, one of the lowest per capita amounts in B.C. Becoming a municipal library would mean more tax money going to the library, another issue which needs to be discussed with the municipality. "Per capita, this is a very wealthy town," said Greene. "What we've been spending on library services is very meagre."


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