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Letter: Didsbury library decision alarming

opinion

The Friends of the Didsbury Library Society is a group of volunteers who raise money through book sales and casinos to benefit the Didsbury library. In the last decade or so, we have raised almost $150,000.

Additionally, in 2019 alone, we volunteered 719 hours. At $15 per hour, this equates to almost $11,000.

All these volunteer hours help the library meet the requirements of matching grants and helps them increase services to the community.

If we extrapolate the volunteer hours over a decade, it’s easy to see the value our organization brings to the library and our community.

We would like to express our total dismay and utter shock with the recent decisions made by Didsbury town council regarding the library.

These decisions appear to have been made without ratification from town council or the Didsbury Library Board. There is a council motion on record that states, “to release a joint public statement for the new library project upon approval of the mayor and board chair”

There is no other motion of council or the library that speaks to this. A press release and video from the mayor states that, “both groups agree that the initial intent to expand the Didsbury municipal library into the former town office space makes the most sense.”

We find this extremely alarming. How can one member of each group make a decision for the rest of the group? There is a reason there are seven members of council and nine members of the library board.

All decisions are intended to be part of a democratic process. In fact, the secretary for the library board confirmed the library board did not vote on the proposal to renovate and expand into the former town offices.

In 2011, the town announced that they were keeping the old high school lands for the library and civic centre, as the buildings were not in good shape even then. See Didsbury Review, October 11, 2011 issue.

In late 2016, the town purchased the Venue Church for their new municipal offices, capital only costs to date of $1,500,000. Then they hired an independent firm to assess the needs of the library, their current location and the old town office.

The study came back stating that these buildings were not large enough for the current needs of the library never mind into the foreseeable future and that there were major issues with both buildings.

The town billed the library for this study to the tune of $59,231, and now they appear to be ignoring the report.

The Friends of the Didsbury Library are currently located in the old town office and, to date, no one from town council, administration or the library board has informed us what it means for our organization, our future and our ability to fundraise for the library.

Friends of the Didsbury Library Society





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