Library Extension/Council Chambers
Library Extension and Council Chambers
Project timeframe: Work is scheduled to commence in May 2023.
In April 2022, Councillors agreed to move ahead with the Waimate District Library extension and refurbishment, bringing to an end decades of discussion. This project forms a key part of Council’s budget for the upcoming financial year and has been deemed as a priority to advance. Here, we take a look back at the history, what’s planned and provide a breakdown of the costs, the impact on your rates and the expected timeframe.
For almost two decades, the library extension has been discussed in great detail and included within several Long Term Plans.
In the 2009/10 Annual Plan, the library extension was first budgeted at $1.5 million. As years passed, other significant projects were expedited, with the Waimate Event Centre build taking centre stage from 2016, meaning the extension was deferred.
In future Long Term Plans, Council earmarked this development as a must do. Fast forward a few years and suddenly, a global pandemic emerges and creates a whole new wave of complexity. Due to widespread uncertainty and a need to err on the side of caution, the project was again deferred, only for the Waimate area to be hit with a 1 in 100 year flood in early 2021.
As a result of flooding to the Local Government Centre, money from the library extension budget has been used ahead of time to reroof the building (which was deemed unsafe due to the weight of the concrete tiles) and refurbish the Council offices – with the library extension project itself now finally ready to commence. In their move to approve the extension, the majority of Councillors were of the same opinion, with a simple instruction to “just get on with it” – a view they believe is shared by the majority of residents.
WHY CAN’T COUNCIL DEFER IT AGAIN?
A quick countback on figures show $1 million in the year 2004 (when the project was first discussed) was equivalent in purchasing power to approximately $1.53 million in today’s monetary terms.
That’s an increase of $530,487 over 18 years. With the rising cost of inflation and the global squeeze on materials, deferring this project any longer will simply cost more money in the long run, for what will be a similar outcome.
Doing nothing is simply not an option, therefore Council believe it’s time to progress and have budgeted $1,276,330 for this in the upcoming financial year. There are a number of upgrades required to bring the building up to modern day standards and to ensure the building meets all health and safety standards.
As part of the project, we are also relocating the Information Centre back to Queen Street, situating the service area within the library. This will bring the focal point back to the main street and will be clearly signposted for all visitors to locate, operating five and a half days a week. As the district continues to grow, we see this as an important move to continue promoting the Waimate District and all the wonders that lie within, particularly in the resurgence post-COVID, which will in turn help to bring foot traffic back to the CBD.
Like most things in life, libraries are evolving and adapting with the times. No longer is a library just a place to read a book with a loud ‘sshhh’ from the librarian at any inkling of sound, it’s a safe space for people to read, research, browse newspapers, magazines, use free Wi-Fi and the in-house computers.
Having a fit for purpose library is essential to any community, and after almost twenty years discussing possibilities and new design concepts, Council think it’s time to hit the green light and move the district forward. This extension, alongside the recent refurbishment, will extend the life/usefulness of the library and Local Government Centre for many years to come.
Scheduled to commence May 2023.
As part of the library extension and refurbishment, Council will also explore options to introduce natural light in to the Council Chambers.
The extent of this work has not yet been finalised, but Council see this as an important upgrade to the Local Government Centre building. The Council Chambers serve as an official meeting space for Councillors, and often host meetings with external parties also. Presently, the lighting in this room is poor and the overall airflow could be better. These changes also provide an opportunity to future-proof the area to meet changing technology demands, including the ability to host Zoom meetings, record meetings and livestream.
The raised platform will be removed, creating more space and a multi-functional area.