Library space needed in Summerland

The Wharton Street development project has come to a halt, but the need for a new library facility continues.

The Wharton Street development project has come to a halt, but the need for a new library facility continues.

Last week, the municipality announced that the contract for a large multi-phase development on Wharton Street was cancelled. The purchase and sale agreement with the developers expired and because of health issues with the owner, there were no plans to renew the agreement.

The first phase of the development was to include a new facility for the museum and the library. Both are operating out of cramped quarters. The museum was opened in 1983. It has an area of 372 square metres. The space is limited and as a result not all artifacts can be displayed. The library was built in 1981. It has an area of 316 square metres, or 48 per cent of the size needed to  serve Summerland’s population, according to the Okanagan Regional Library’s calculations.

Since 2003, the Okanagan Regional Library board has been working to find a new location for the library.

Over the past decade, two proposals for a development on Wharton Street would have provided space for the museum and library.

Sue Kline, librarian at the Summerland library branch, said the building is well used.

In July, there were 8,500 visits to the library and in August, there were 7,500 visits. These figures do not include activities for children.

Improvements to the building have been put on hold because of the plans to create a new library space.

Mayor Janice Perrino said the cancellation is a disappointment, but added that the municipality will continue to find new cultural facilities.

“I am reminded of the Waterfront Resort and how many developers came and went before it was finally built. Council will not stopping looking for the right project and our goal to build a new facility for the library, museum and cultural centre has not changed,” she said.

“On the upside, the construction had not started so the area still looks the same.”

Alene Fenrich, president of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, said the cancellation is disappointing.

“A well designed commercial and residential complex at the Wharton location will be the largest downtown development project in years, playing a significant role in revitalization efforts downtown and contributing to economic development,” she said. “A creative and workable plan to move forward with this development is needed as soon as possible.”