$1.5M sale of Yorkton library building stirs up local debate

Many people say the alternative space isn’t big enough or accessible for users.  (Nick Persaud - image credit)
Many people say the alternative space isn’t big enough or accessible for users. (Nick Persaud - image credit)

Concerns about the sale of the Yorkton Public Library's current building have sparked a debate in the Saskatchewan city, located about 175 kilometres northeast of Regina.

Earlier this month, the city announced in a local newspaper that it intended to sell the current library building for $1.5 million.

Mayor Mitch Hippsley told Stefani Langenegger, host of CBC Saskatchwan's The Morning Edition, that the city received seven letters in opposition to this sale and no letters in favour.

The new proposed location for the library is the second floor of the Gallagher Centre in the city. This move would reduce the library's space to 6,000 square feet from the current 16,000 square feet. Hippsley said the average smaller municipal library is actually about 8,000 square feet.

Yorkton This Week
Yorkton This Week

The move has been called unnecessary by some Yorkton residents, who also brought up issues of accessibility and parking during a city council meeting last week.

Carol Bolt, who lives in Yorkton, is one of the people who spoke to council. She said the Gallagher Centre is just not a good place to go.

"It's not accessible for some people at all," said Bolt. "Parking is a real problem, because you probably are going to have to park in the horrible parking lot and you have to go forever to get into the actual building. And then you have to get up to the second floor to get into the library that's too small."

Mayor Hippsley said the city never advertised that the library was for sale to the Yorkton public, but had decided in an in-camera meeting late last year to explore the possibility of selling.

The city already has a potential buyer for the library.

"It came up almost by serendipity, because we weren't advertising it was for sale," Hippsley said. "I guess it was through a discussion, through another discussion and someone found out and said, 'well, we are interested, here's our offer.'"

The mayor did not say who the buyer is.

"We kept that as anonymous as we could, because that's the way to go," Hippsley said.

He said council wanted to put the notice in the paper to get feedback on the potential transaction.

"First we thought, well we should come and we should divulge the fact that we're going to consider selling it for $1.5 million to the public," said Hippsley. "It's your building. What do you think?"

Council is scheduled to make a final decision on the sale on June 5.