So far, a reason to hope is all the public can count on in regards to a new central public library, despite the impassioned pleas of several Halifax regional councillors as budget debate wrapped up yesterday.
“This project has probably had the longest gestation period that I’m aware of,” Coun. Reg Rankin (Timberlea-Prospect) said. “Let’s deliver this and let it be born.”
Plans for a replacement for the aging Spring Garden Road Memorial Library have languished for more than a decade. This year, it’s earmarked for $400,000 — sufficient funding to develop a shortlist of architects and a conceptual drawing, but not much more than that, Halifax Public Libraries CEO Judith Hare said.
Lower Sackville Coun. Bob Harvey challenged his colleagues to meet the library board’s initial request, and find the necessary funding (about $4 million) to take a “real step” in completing the design phase.
But Dan English, chief administrative officer for HRM, urged council to allow finance staff to develop a multi-year financing strategy to fund the project, which could cost $30 to $50 million.
Also, English stressed the importance of finalizing the land transaction with the province to secure the former Halifax Infirmary site before setting aside more substantial funds.
Staff told councillors yesterday to expect a report in June, which will include the possibility of utilizing some of the windfall anticipated by the gas tax as a possible revenue source for the library.