New library building awaiting conclusion of negotiations 

While the Whistler Public Library celebrates its 15 th anniversary Saturday with birthday cake and reading lists from locals, it will be next spring before fund-raising begins for the new library.

The new building, which will house the museum and the library, will be on the Main Street site where the museum and library now sit in temporary facilities. The land is owned by the province, which is willing to give it to the municipality if the building houses the museum and library alone. There have been discussions about including some commercial space in the building to help defer costs. If that were to be the case, then a covenant stipulates that the property must be bought from the B.C. Assets and Land Corporation.

There has also been some suggestion that the municipality could move some of its operations to the new building.

The municipality and BCAL have been in negotiations for some time and hope to conclude those talks in September. Once they reach agreement the public process of designing the new building can begin.

The municipality and the B.C. Building Corporation have been working for a couple of years on the project, evaluating building sites, determining space requirements and soliciting public input. The building will likely be constructed using environmentally sustainable materials and building practices.

Once architectural drawings are done the library and museum boards will begin fund-raising in the spring. The municipality has committed more than $180,000 toward design of the building this year, and $4.8 million toward construction costs between 2002 and 2004. But additional funds will have to come from individuals and companies. The library and museum have already had offers of donations but are holding off until a professionally-run fund-raising campaign is in place.

"I think this will be a great site for the library," library director Joan Richoz said.

"I think the design really needs to stand out as well. It?s got to be something like the Vancouver library or ? something that can be pointed out easily. Something distinctive, but also Whistler and West Coast. Whether we have a lot of say in the exterior design, I don?t know."

The current library and museum will have to be moved to an interim location before construction of the new building starts. That will mean moving everything out of the temporary facilities while the trailers are moved to a new site.

"When we started the library we thought we?d be in a new building in 1991," Richoz said. "And then when we moved here we though we?d be in the trailers three-five years. That was in 1994.

"But that?s the nature of Whistler, too."

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