Plebiscite called for library expansion and relocation of town offices

After an onslaught of opposition to its plan to accommodate the library’s need for expansion by relocating the town’s offices

After an onslaught of opposition to its plan to accommodate the library’s need for expansion by relocating the town’s offices to the Provincial Building, council has decided to let the voters make the final decision.

At its April 29 meeting, council, in a 4-1 vote, agreed a vote will be held June 3 to determine what direction council will take regarding the move and the library expansion.

Background information on the ballots will state the library is growing and the town has proposed selling the existing municipal building to the library board for $1 and moving town administration to the Provincial Building.

Apart from one-time capital costs this will not result in increased operating costs for the town. The solution will benefit the citizens by allowing the library to expand in place.

The question voters will be asked is: “Under these circumstances, do you agree the library should expand into the existing municipal building resulting in the town office relocating to the Provincial Building?”

Coun. Scott Ellis voted against the decision. Ellis, who replaced Joe Anglin, who has since become the local MLA, believes he and other councillors were elected to show leadership and they need to stand by their decisions.

“I think our town offices would be fine in the Provincial Building,” he said. “I get that it is an easy decision (to hold a referendum) but in a few months there will be an election and they (the people) can judge us then.”

He also gave examples of other municipal councils who have made decisions without holding a plebiscite such Edmonton council who built a new multi-million-dollar arena without the matter going to a public vote.

“People elected us to make decisions. Sometimes they are going to like our decisions and sometimes they are not.

Coun. Paul Payson agrees holding a referendum is a “little bit of a back off” but when there are so many people calling for it, he believes council should bend to the will of the people.

“I believe we’re at a spot where a referendum would be a clear way to settle this issue.”

Coun. Jack Webb agreed. “If we go to the referendum I don’t see how the library loses. Either way they don’t lose.”

Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson said a referendum should resolve the issue.

“It will settle it once and for all. Plus the library board has asked for it.”