Unfortunately, the Sechelt Public Library does not enjoy good support from the District of Sechelt or the Regional District and among libraries is the most poorly funded by local governments on the Sunshine Coast. For example, for the year 2017, the total local government support per capita for Powell River, Gibsons and Sechelt was $53.82, $50.21 and $33.78 respectively.
The Sechelt library is also very poorly funded when compared with all of the 71 B.C. libraries: in 2017 it ranked 68th out of 71 in space per capita; 52nd regarding local government support; and 56th for total financial support. The Sechelt library doesn’t even have its own public meeting room, having to share space with the district, which has first call on the room.
This author has asked several Sechelt councillors why Sechelt library isn’t supported better. The responses varied, but the two common themes were: “We don’t have industries paying taxes, and our sister communities that share our library’s services do not pay their fair share.” My response was that West Vancouver doesn’t have industries either, but it has the highest library support in B.C. Regarding insufficient sister community support, it is up to our councillors to ensure that adequate support is obtained.
Early in 2018, Margaret Hodgson, Sechelt’s recently departed chief librarian, requested extra operating funds from Sechelt council, as the library could not provide all needed services – for example, no funds were available for a children’s librarian. The request was turned down during the Feb. 21 council meeting, with councillors Darren Inkster, Alice Lutes and Doug Wright voting “No” and Noel Muller, Mike Shanks and Darnelda Siegers voting “Yes.” The motion was defeated on a tie. Mayor Bruce Milne was not present at this meeting; it would have been interesting to see how he would have voted.
The election for Sechelt councillors occurs in a few days. So, voters should be aware which candidates will support our library in the future, as our modern technical society needs excellent public libraries more than ever.
Russ Tkachuk, Sechelt