MULGRAVE – Councillor Crystal Durling, the Town of Mulgrave’s representative on the Eastern Counties Regional Library (ECRL) board, told council at its committee of the whole meeting Monday night (Feb. 22) that the ECRL has expressed its desire to close the library branch in Mulgrave.
“For cost for them, it makes more sense to close it,” Durling said, adding that ECRL headquarters would remain in Mulgrave.
CAO Darlene Berthier Sampson asked if the library closure was a suggestion, or if they were being told the decision had been made, to which Durling replied, “They wanted to bring it to the meeting … pretty much -- it is going to happen because of money issues.”
Since the pandemic started, the ECRL branch in Mulgrave has been closed. Prior to that, the branch had only opened six months of the year.
Since March 2020, books have been available for curbside pick-up at the Mulgrave branch – via online ordering – and also by mail.
“The only thing it is going to hurt is if a lot of people in town go there to use computers,” said Durling.
Council believes that the only way to keep the library branch open in Mulgrave is to dedicate more money from the town’s budget to the operation of the facility.
“It’s pretty much a money issue, the way she (ECRL CEO Laura Emery) was saying that, ‘If you want to keep the service, you’re going to probably have to pay.’ They only have so much money to work with for their budget.”
The matter will be tabled until the next council meeting, but councillors voiced their agreement with the proposed closure.
Last month, the Town of Mulgrave started to look for a volunteer to sit on the Eastern Mainland Housing Authority Board. The town’s seat on the board – recently left vacant – has not been filled.
Berthier Sampson said at the meeting that the housing authority board is, “a very important initiative … I’m not going to mince words to the public, we’re not having great outcomes with our public housing. Financially, some of them stay empty for a long period of time and for every month they stay empty the town’s share is 12.5 per cent, approximately. The longer it stays empty the more we pay.”
In addition to the financial burden of the housing units, they’re also often the subject of bylaw infractions and policing calls.
The original agreement between the town and the province regarding public housing is outdated and needs to be renegotiated, said Berthier Sampson. A volunteer from Mulgrave is needed to represent the town’s interests on the board.
In an addition to the approved agenda, Councillor Robert Russell asked the town staff to investigate the possiblity of plowing the Scotia Trail.
The next regular town council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers.
Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal