I wish to comment on Summerland’s latest library plans.
In the year 2001, museum and library groups were in agreement with the Meiklejohn concept.
This proposal used the existing library and museum buildings, joining them and creating a cultural centre. The design met all of the requirements of both groups.
With existing funding and eight potential grants, more than two-thirds of the total funding for the project was available at that time.
The design was such that the building could be completed in phases as we could afford it. Then municipal staff entered the discussions. According to staff, Summerland could not afford the proposal and had a better concept.
After five years of waiting, their “better concept” was to sell off the Wharton Street lands to fund these buildings.
At the time, I challenged municipal staff to provide an example of another community which had sold off municipal land at the very centre of their community. Still can’t find one.
Today, this latest proposal still includes selling off the Wharton Street lands plus selling our art gallery land and building.
The selling price of the art gallery land is less than half of what we paid for the RCMP building lands. And the taxpayer gets to pay the monthly rent for one of the vacant stores on Main Street to house the numerous art gallery groups. After 13 years of waiting, this is staff’s “better concept?”
Summerland began acquiring these downtown lands in 1948 in preparation for the 50th anniversary of Summerland in 1956.
Now we are selling these lands cheap. Municipal staff’s ability to predict our future and determine that these lands are surplus and will never be required by our community is quite remarkable.
David E. Gregory