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Sechelt endorses new funding agreement for library

Funding model for Coast libraries ‘broken,’ says councillor
Sechelt Library
Sechelt Library

It’s been more than a year in the making but a new five-year agreement for funding the Sechelt Public Library has been authorized by District of Sechelt council.

The five-year agreement includes updated budget requests from the library, with a 2.5 per cent increase proposed for 2021, four per cent for 2022 and three per cent for 2023 to 2025.

The base amount requested for 2021 is $849,438, with the District of Sechelt expected to pay $549,223, with incremental increases to $623,099 by 2025, when the library’s base budget will be be $965,332.

The Sechelt Indian Government District (SIGD) and Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) are also contributing to the agreement and have recently endorsed it.

In 2021, the SIGD will pay $14,792, Area A will pay $48,803, Area B will cover $140,583 and Area D will contribute $87,784 out of taxation.

Populations for each area were used to determine the figure – Area A at 33 per cent of population served, Area B at 100 per cent, Area D at 50 per cent, SIGD at 42 per cent and Sechelt at 100 per cent.

At the March 17 Sechelt regular council meeting where it was endorsed, financial services director David Douglas said the agreement, while not perfect, is “heading down the path that we’ve all wanted to go with using population as a base for apportionment and having everyone funding their share.”

However, not all councillors agreed.

Coun. Matt McLean said the agreement was a “big improvement” over the previous one and supported moving forward with it, but added, “the notion that Pender Harbour is served 33 per cent of what is served in the District of Sechelt is not fair.”

He said because the building is provided by the district “at minimal rent” and the majority of funding is provided by the district, it pays a larger share than is required.

“The funding model for libraries on the Sunshine Coast is broken,” he said, describing the need to have five funders agree “absolutely ridiculous.”

Instead, he said, a regional library service should be established and run by the SCRD. “That is why we have a regional district, for large organizations like this,” he said.

Coun. Alton Toth described the agreement as an “ordeal,” but noted the second five-year agreement was something to build on. He also noted local governments can continue to negotiate during the five-year period.

The library is still allowed to make additional capital or operating project requests as part of budget proceedings and the agreement can be renegotiated if the library reaches a surplus of 10 per cent of its operating expenses.  

Included in the service agreement is the commitment to provide Pender Harbour Reading Room services and support for shíshálh Nation children’s education and to provide space and access to shíshálh Nation collections.

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