When the District of Invermere decided to hold a referendum regarding a new community hall, both my husband and I, as taxpayers were supportive. We also accepted the facts as presented, that financially, the Municipal Library could not be part of phase one, but would be included with phase two, along with municipal offices.
Over the past few months there have been hints in the local paper that the Fitness Centre is now a partner in the new community facility. At the May Library Board meeting, District of Invermere councillor Greg Anderson was asked by the Library Board to clarify the Councils position on the matter. (District of Invermere Councillor Greg Anderson also sits on the Library Board as the District of Invermere representative and library advocate.) He made these points:
There is much more support for the Valley Fitness Centre than the Municipal Library. (Greg Anderson stated this information was gathered from surveys and talking to people.)
The Valley Fitness Centre will contribute their current building to the cost of the new facility (approximately $300,000). Since the Valley Fitness Centre is open seven days a week, their staff would operate the new facility seven days a week. (Currently, District of Invermere staff is responsible for opening operations of the community hall.)
The Municipal Library is not in an untenable position and is located in a passable building.
There is a steering committee in existence that does not include representation from the library although it was promised a space in the second phase.
I was willing to accept the information from the District of Invermere, that there were insufficient funds to build the Municipal Library in Phase One, but Councillor Anderson also reported that the current draft of the new facility, which includes the Valley Fitness Centre, is two million dollars over budget.
The majority of people present at the Library Board meeting were surprised. I feel that the general public is also unaware of this position.
In the past 30 years, the Invermere Library has been in four different locations. Each location imposed limits to the size of the collection and the programs and services that the library could provide to the community. As an employee of the library, I am aware of the struggles and challenges that the library staff have had to overcome in order to accommodate the needs of our community.
The Valley Fitness Centre is a business (albeit non-profit) and is in competition with other local gyms and studios. The current membership fee is $525 for an adult. I think that it is outrageous that our tax dollars would pay for their space in the Community Centre ahead of the Municipal Library.
If you would prefer to have your tax dollars spent on your library rather than the Valley Fitness Centre, a non-profit business, please speak up.