We are nearing April 30th polling day for voting on the referendum for the acquisition of 521 for the new home of the library and museum. It should be made clear right up front, as I have heard a few people say the regional district is in support of this move to 521 Main St. It’s just the contrary. The regional district sits on the fence with regards to these types of referendums where they neither support one side nor the other. They are just the facilitators of this process.

I think this perception was recently skewed somewhat with the mail out that included options on the referendum from the regional district but also included in the mail out was a brochure from the library and the first thing you see on the brochure is “vote yes”. I think it was a mistake for the regional district to include this brochure in their mail out on the referendum. The library’s brochure should have been sent out separately.

From a taxpayers standpoint I think property owners and owners of rental properties living within the foot print of this vote on the library need to think long and hard about paying for something for the next 25 years. I for one am not totally convinced that the library can continue to operate within their current limited hours, annual operating budget and still keep the lights on 10 to 15 years from now.

Even if they had a good solid long term business plan it should not be dependent on accessing grants in the future in order to fill in the shortfall in funding. Aside from some late book fees and some internal cost recoveries libraries do not generate much in the way of revenue.

Think about it for a second. There is a very short window from June until mid-September that we see tourism peak in the area. Tourists do not go on vacation to visit libraries. Yes maybe they visit a museum but what happens for the other 8 months of the year. We know snowmobilers won’t be visiting the museum. So from an economic basis the museum, should it try and stay open in those 8 months, it will not likely generate much for revenue.

Will the library and museum survive if they don’t move to 521 Main Street? Absolutely they will survive.

But for now I think as a taxpayer and property owner you need to ask the question – Is it worth 25 years of taxes in paying for a facility where there is so many uncertainties as to what this operation will cost taxpayers 10, 15 and 20 years down the road.

I think it’s unfortunate that finding ways to improve our local economy has taken a backseat to this whole library issue. Myself for one, along with many others I have spoken with, are not convinced that having a library and museum at 521 main street will be the end all be all for McBride, for now or the future.

In closing I fondly remember one comment I heard over and over in the many meetings I attended and it was “It will not cost the taxpayers of McBride one cent for a new library.” Interesting how things have changed in a couple of years from not costing anything, to now being told we will have to pay for next 25 years.

Ken Starchuck