Area D Director Brenda Leigh chairs the Vancouver Island Regional Library board. Submitted photo

Strathcona Regional District wants province to boost library funding

Regional district responds to library board request for local government to lobby Victoria

While public libraries are primarily funded locally or regional, some in Vancouver Island’s library system want the province to do more to support their institutions.

During Strathcona Regional District board meetings in May, Area D Director Brenda Leigh, who was also elected as board chair by the Vancouver Island Regional Library this year, has brought forward the issue to the SRD table.

The board unanimously supported a motion to ask the provincial government to add another $20 million to its 2019 budget for libraries across the province and to provide financial support at a sustainable level in subsequent years. It cites years of “stagnant funding,” despite which libraries continue to provide excellent service.

“We haven’t had any significant increase in library funding for 30 years,” Leigh said. “Our costs are escalating just like every other public service.”

When Leigh started serving on the VIRL board, she said the province’s share of the library funding was 26 per cent, but this has fallen to about six per cent, despite increasing costs.

With roughly three per cent increases each year, the amount ends up on local levies, she added.

“The province needs to pick up some portion of that,” Leigh said.

RELATED STORY: Library system to increase E-resources, eliminate fees on children’s materials and get into video games

RELATED STORY: Library’s online service will be down Wednesday morning

The motion also states, “libraries in British Columbia provide open and equal public access to vital resources, including the Internet, public computers, digital library tools and in-person service from expert staff to provide opportunities for all British Columbians to access knowledge and information and increase literacy in our communities and present informative programs and material which advance public understanding and reconciliation.”

Andy Adams, Campbell River’s mayor and one of its SRD directors, asked about the logic of asking for a set amount rather than a percentage, as the $20 million could be “eaten up” by larger systems like Vancouver or Kelowna.

“A percentage basis prorated by population of regional districts would be more appropriate,” he said.

Leigh replied that the set figure of $20 million for 2019 was agreed upon by the province’s library association and library trustees association.

“That is what they feel all the libraries in B.C. are needing to continue a sustainable service,” she said.

Beyond the SRD board, the item should be coming to other local governments. The executive of the VIRL, Leigh said, has agreed to a “multi-pronged approach” to approach the BC Library Trustees Association and the Union of BC Municipalities about lobbying the province for more funding for public libraries.

“We’re going to ask all local governments to get behind this motion when it comes to UBCM,” she said.

The annual UBCM convention is scheduled for Sept. 23 to 27 in Vancouver.

Another idea that could show up on the agenda is a push to have libraries moved to another ministry. Leigh said during recent budget deliberations by the province, libraries were not even mentioned. Provincial funding for public libraries now falls under the Ministry of Education.

“We’re rather overshadowed by education,” Leigh said, adding they need to be in a ministry with more focus on libraries.

The ministry issue, however, did not form part of the motion though, she said, as the matter would be left up to the government.

Just Posted

Coroner’s inquest into fatal police shooting in Port Hardy begins in Campbell River

James Reginald Butters, 24, killed in 2015 after RCMP responded to call of male uttering threats

Forest fire 1.5 km from Sara Lake listed as out of control

While the fire is classified as out of control, they expect it to be under control imminently.

Salvation Army cribbage tournament brings joy to the Port Hardy community

“Everyone is always laughing and having a good time”

Port Hardy casting call

This is a paid gig $400 per person for the day.

62.5 pounder caught off north of Port Hardy

“It was a team effort to land this 62.5 lb fish”

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

B.C. seniors allowed more choice to stay in assisted living

Province doesn’t need to wait for a complaint to investigate care, Adrian Dix says

Retired B.C. fisherman wins record $60M Lotto Max jackpot

Joseph Katalinic won the biggest Lotto Max prize ever awarded

Island manslaughter suspect found not guilty in Supreme Court

Court accepts accused’s argument of self-defence for 2017 incident in Courtenay

Most Read