Campaign ramps up for Trail’s new library/museum

The November 15 civic election includes a referendum question that asks voters to yea-or-nay a $6.2 million loan for a new facility.

The summer market in Trail has been a great sounding board for supporters of the proposed library/museum project.

Now it’s time to rev up the Trail Riverfront Centre campaign because the Nov. 15 civic election includes a referendum question that asks Silver City voters to yea-or-nay a $6.2 million city loan for a new integrated facility.

“We are going full steam ahead,” said Barbara Gibson, the Trail and District Public Library’s board chair. “We’ve been at every market to engage the community and answer questions about a new library. And so far, the response has been positive.”

Design plans for the 18,000 square-foot structure are still in the conceptual phase pending the referendum results, but the library board, Friends of the Library, and the Trail Historical Society have a plan to get the word out to voters that a new facility would be a great asset to the community.

Gibson said much of the feedback she has received during Friday’s Trail Market on the Esplanade has been related to the library’s poor access especially since changes were made to the Trail Memorial Centre entrance.

“People seem to be enthusiastic about moving the library because the access is worse now than it’s ever been,” explained Gibson. “Some have told me they stopped coming to the library because it’s too difficult to get it, which is very sad. The whole concept of a library is that it’s available to everyone.”

Plans to promote a new library/museum are in the works and include sponsored billboards to improve the project’s visibility around the city, various community engagements and ‘Vote Yes’ buttons that will be available on market days and at the library.

“The ‘Friends’ are going with a full scale campaign along with the historical society,” Gibson added. “So please come out and ask some questions.”

The modern integrated facility could cost Trail taxpayers an increase of $72 in municipal taxes, but all entities involved have been actively pursuing additional funding sources in hopes of reducing the net cost to the city.

The City of Trail submitted an application for $500,000 in funding from Columbia Basin Trust and is awaiting a decision from its board this fall.

So far, the Trail Historical Society has been granted $20,000 from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance towards the building’s capital costs for a museum and gallery space.

“Some of the things we’ll be doing jointly with the library board is meeting with community groups to talk about the benefits of the facility,” said Jamie Forbes, the society’s board president. “Our goal is to get the referendum passed,” he continued. “So the next two months is really about getting our message out to the public, so people are informed and know that the project is worthwhile and should be supported.”

Forbes addressed concerns from the community regarding the size of the designated lot compared to the proposed building’s dimensions – because the design plans show a 9,000 square-foot facility constructed on a 7,500 square-foot lot.

“We have been getting this question all the time at the market,” he said. “The current concept was developed for budgetary purposes and a lot of work hasn’t been done in detail. An architect will be hired (if referendum passes) to finalize the design plans.”

The footprint of the building presently shows that the structure will envelop about 15 feet of the Helena Street roadway, added Forbes. “It will probably use the sidewalk and a bit of the parking but there could be changes to our current plan. The concept concentrated on the size, layout and functionality of the building and that probably won’t change much.”