YORKTON - You may not have heard it, but there is a high likelihood there was a collective sigh of relief at the most recent gathering of Yorkton Council when they were informed the buyers of the current library building were opting out of the deal.
The process of selling the building will still go down as one of the great bungles in Yorkton Council history, and that may still be an issue of discussion in the next municipal election, but the buyer opt out does reset things for Council.
With the deal made, and Council warned by administration if the city rescinded the idea they’d like face legal action, the fate of the library looked sealed – to move.
Of course the question was to where?
Council had its eye on space at the Gallagher Centre, smaller, out of the way, with questions of access, but it would have back-filled city space left empty when long-time occupants moved out.
But the public was rather loud about the library needing to be centrally located, while outlining various issues with the Gallagher Centre spot.
Council then chose to put the skids on the planned move to the city’s west end while they looked at alternative sites.
Whether the city was close on a better location is now a moot point.
As for the Gallagher Centre space, well it remains on a list of business properties which include the vacant lot on Broadway Street which was left after an old motel was demolished, and the serviced lots behind the Chamber of Commerce offices, the city has been trying to do something productive with for ages.
Now it’s time to focus some attention on the library.
The outpouring of concern over the expected move of the library showed a rather diverse user group, readers of course, but viewers of art, small community groups playing cards, people researching family trees, those needing computer access, and the list goes on.
So how might the city best build on that now?
Well there is a recent recreation study, but the overview given not so long ago at Council didn’t flag the library as a high priority.
It should have been of course. Recreation is not only about sports, as much as we might at times think.
While replacing the Kinsmen Arena sooner than later rated attention, and of course there was some $7.5 million just invested at Deer Park Golf Course, things such as music, art, reading, crafts are all recreation too, and deserves more municipal attention than they receive now.
So, with the library secure where it should be, it’s time to gather the diverse users together and plot a course to preserve and expand programming – and yes that may mean investing more city dollars in the process.