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

Aftershock soccer tournament takes over Port Hardy fields

Around the clock matches were played in divisions ranging from tots to U18.

Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre’s 2018-2019 graduating class

The Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre is located on the Tsulquate reserve in the North Island.

Skin deep: A look inside the ink behind Beacon Tattoo

Patrick Berube, owner of Beacon Tattoo, spends most of his Tuesdays at… Continue reading

Second recreational cannabis shop opens its doors in Port Hardy

Pacificanna owner Darren Saunders was excited to finally see his family-run business open up shop.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: A lone crow landing beside an eagle

“I saw an eagle just sitting there, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t be there long as I got closer”

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

B.C. Ferries vessel breaks down right before long weekend

Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route impacted most, revised schedule adds 4 a.m. sailings

Every situation is different, jurors hear at coroners inquest into Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Pediatrician says involuntary treatment necessary following overdose, opioid use

Nanaimo man gets jail time for posting explicit photos of ex-girlfriends

Man’s name cannot be revealed to protect victims’ identities

North Island thrift store robbed at knifepoint, say RCMP

Suspect fled on bicycle following Tuesday stick-up

RCMP across Canada to soon unionize, according to B.C. mayor

A spokeswoman for RCMP headquarters in Ottawa says it’s not yet a done deal

Explicit sex-ed guide for adults mistakenly given to Creston elementary students

The booklet clearly states online and inside that the guide contains sexually explicit information

Driver has $240K McLaren impounded minutes after buying it in West Vancouver

Officers clocked the car travelling at 160 km/h along Highway 1 in a 90 km/h zone

Most Read