Logical solution for centre, library is part company

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Confederation Centre Library

Both facilities cramped for space but what are options in downtown?

The departure of the provincial library branch from the Confederation Centre of the Arts might make sense if suitable accommodations can be found elsewhere in downtown Charlottetown. The centre has approached the provincial government about moving the library so the loss of approximately $180,000 a year in rental revenue doesn’t appear to be a concern. The centre is anxious to free up the prime space because of increasing demands and changing mandates. It has outgrown its lodgings and currently rents space in several different locations around the city for various programming needs.

It’s that changing mandate which concerns Don Scott, a former centre staff member and longtime patron. The library has been located there since the centre opened 50 years ago and has become a favourite place to go for downtown residents, students and many others because of its central, attractive location. Scott argues the move should be a topic for public discussion and not dealt with only at the boardroom table and says it makes no more sense to move the library out of the complex than it would to move the art gallery. The centre says its mandate is to inspire Canadians through heritage and the arts but those efforts have been increasingly hampered because of space limitations.

While the centre has evolved, so has the library which no longer is just a place to borrow books, but offers reading clubs for teens and social media training for seniors. The library has serious shortcomings. It doesn’t have meeting rooms where those reading clubs or training groups can get away from other patrons, accessibility has always been an issue and the small elevator is a challenge for people in wheelchairs or with mobility issues and it doesn’t have any washrooms.

Both library and centre are cramped for space so the logical solution, despite strong emotional attachments to the library by many people, it to initiate divorce proceedings. The centre wants more space to move forward on its strategic plan and the library needs more space to better serve its patrons. It seems the logical solution is for the library to move but the big question is where? A suitable location would be a determining factor in gaining support for the relocation and to ensure patrons make the move with it.


Trouble brews at LCC


There are some troubling issues with the annual report from the P.E.I. Liquor Commission. While the commission posted a profit for the 16th consecutive year, it was razor-thin with gross sales of more than $97 million, well short of its goal of $102 million.

The commission says part of this loss came from an expectation Islanders would buy more expensive alcohol. There are regular increases for beer, wine and hard liquor so why would the commission think Islanders would then rush to buy more even expensive booze? Economic conditions are not that great in the province and prices on most products are quite high enough.

The six new agency stores in P.E.I. were a hit but their success meant trouble for other provincial retail outlets. For example, the North Rustico store lost $80,000, the West Royalty location lost $129,820 and the flagship store at Oak Tree Place in Charlottetown posted a staggering loss of more than $318,000.

Lower sales should mean hiring less staff but no jobs will be lost because the contract between government and the civil service union guarantees no layoffs until 2016. Why would government embark on this store expansion if it was going to cost the taxpayers of this province more than $500,000 in one year? It wasn’t the best use of the public purse.



Organizations: Confederation Centre, P.E.I. Liquor Commission

Geographic location: Charlottetown, West Royalty, Oak Tree Place

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Recent comments

  • Practical Suburbanite
    January 21, 2014 - 20:52

    Ideally the library moves to an uptown location where parking is not an issue. One of the plazas being built near Sears would be a great location for all.

    • Harry Finley
      January 22, 2014 - 08:13

      Not everyone can afford a car Mr. Practical. The public library should be located so that everyone can access it - and people with a car can access it anywhere. Generally (there are exceptions) people without a car can access it most easily downtown.

  • Pete
    January 21, 2014 - 11:39

    There is a more than adequate commercial space available for the library right across the street at the Dominion Building. Win-win. The Confed Centre gets its additional space, the library gets the space it needs and library patrons only have to cross the street to continue to enjoy the library services. The Dominion Building also had no accessibility issues for those folks for which that is an issue.