Library plans finally approved 

Concerns raised at Monday’s meeting about library architect

Council has finally given the go ahead to the $7.5 million plans for the public library facility, which will be standing in the heart of Whistler by early 2006.

The approval marks the final days of a leaky trailer ruining good books, it relegates the unsuccessful fundraising campaign to a distant memory and it puts to rest two months of friction-filled council debate about the proposed facility.

Mayor Hugh O’Reilly was pleased with Monday’s outcome, particularly as council broke down the various components of the project and voted on each separately.

"It didn’t stall the project and it didn’t set people up to go against the project if there was an element (they didn’t agree with)," he said after the meeting.

"It got the job done and everyone I think walked away feeling good, so it’s great."

All councillors, with the exception of Ken Melamed who was not at Monday’s meeting, supported the recommendation to begin a proposal call for hiring a construction management team for the library.

This is a departure from the library plans presented last month, which called for a more traditional client/consultant team model, using the British Columbia Building Corporation for project development services.

"Construction management is a great way to add accountability," said Councillor Marianne Wade, who was adamant about moving away from the client/construction team model at the last council meeting.

But Wade and Councillor Kristi Wells could not reconcile their concerns about the $815,000 price tag to rehire Hughes Condon Marler Architects – the same firm who designed the proposed joint library/museum facility two years ago and the company that designed the Spring Creek Fire Hall.

"(I) think (the municipality) could deliver a better project with a different design team," said Wells.

Wade also had concerns about the costs of the architect and said she would have been happier to put out a call for proposals from other design firms.

But time is of the essence and putting out the library design for a proposal call could delay the process up to five months, which would in turn drive up the overall costs, according to Municipal Parks Planner Martin Pardoe, who presented the plan to council at Monday’s meeting.

"Staff’s biggest concern remains with the escalating costs (of construction)," he said.

According to the detailed staff report, looking for a new design team could force the project into a seasonal shutdown during the 2005-06 winter season.

Ultimately the building would not be ready until late 2006, roughly a 10-month difference.

Estimates point to a $44,000 increase in construction costs per month at that time. As such, the delay could add close to half a million dollars to the overall cost of the project.

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