Sydney residents to have their say on a new central library

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The site of the former Cape Breton County courthouse known as Wentworth Court is being considered as a possible new location for a central library in Sydney, N.S. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)
The site of the former Cape Breton County courthouse known as Wentworth Court is being considered as a possible new location for a central library in Sydney, N.S. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)

Cape Breton Regional Municipality is taking another small step toward the creation of a new central library in Sydney, N.S.

So far, two existing buildings are being considered as possibilities, but CBRM Mayor Amanda McDougall says there may be other options.

On Tuesday, council voted to begin a public consultation process to examine their choices.

"We need to get this done as soon as possible because we're going to miss another round of funding if we don't," said McDougall.

"I'm not trying to rush through this. It's taken a lot longer than I had anticipated [to get] through to the point that we're at right now.... In my mind, there's only two options right now on the table and so we'll see what the public says in terms of their opinions as well."

Renovate or build

Erin Pottie/CBC
Erin Pottie/CBC

Among the options put forward are renovating the current James McConnell Memorial Library on Falmouth Street or renovating a former courthouse building on Crescent Street that overlooks Wentworth Park.

McDougall said that a previous funding application for a new central library to be located on the Sydney waterfront was denied because it lacked pertinent details.

"It's really, really important to have that public opinion on [what] you want to see in a public library before we start to commit to things like design, costing," she said.

"The provincial and federal government do want to have us committed to a site before we can enter into any conversations around financing."

Sydney Forks area councillor Steve Parsons said CBRM needs to remember that cost overruns are to be expected when renovating existing buildings.

Expect overruns, says councillor

Erin Pottie/CBC
Erin Pottie/CBC

"If we say to the government, 'We need $50 million,' and all of a sudden we get into it and we need another 10 — go back and try to get another $10 million out of the government – not going to happen. That's why they want you to do your [estimates] to identify as best as you can [the] true cost to build this out, so if these two buildings can't work, let's look for another piece of land."

Both mayor and council agreed that community consultations should begin as soon as possible, with feedback collected over the course of a one-month period.

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