BILL MCQUARRIE PHOTO Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom wants to see budget cuts restored to BC’s public libraries.

Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom wants to see previous cuts to public libraries reversed

The Ministry of Education has, over 10 years, reduced provincial library funding by $6 million.

This week, Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom will be seeking the support of town councillors in a bid to restore budget cuts to BC’s public libraries.

Following the lead of Victoria’s Mayor Lisa Helps, Wickstrom is looking to reverse previous cuts to public libraries. According to her submission to council, Wickstrom states the Ministry of Education has, over the past 10 years, reduced provincial library funding by $6 million.

This reduction in funding doesn’t account for the additional impact of inflation, which the Vancouver Island Regional Library Board of Trustees pegs (had the funding remained at historical levels) at an accumulated total of 15.58 per cent, or $688,8320.

Out of the current budget of $14 million, $2.3 million is allocated to partner organizations that provide services and support for public libraries. The remaining $11.7 million in provincial funding is allocated to BC’s 71 public libraries on a per capita basis.

If the budget were restored to $20 million, the Vancouver Island Regional Library network would receive an additional $735,000, an increase of 57% over last year’s provincial contribution.

Wickstrom is not asking for more money, as she simply wants the money that was taken away from our library returned. Helps agrees and wants to remind everyone how vital libraries are to a healthy and well-rounded community.

Helps, along with mayors such as Wickstrom, are looking to the Union of BC Municipalities for support, noting in her resolution that, “Libraries are now so much more than books.” Explaining how they, “build community and a sense of inclusion while providing universal access to information and learning materials irrespective of income levels.”

Victoria’s city council feels the concept of “universal access to information and learning materials, irrespective of income levels” should not be denied to anyone and Wickstrom would like to see Port McNeill voice its support for the UBCM resolution.

– Bill McQuarrie article

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