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Library costs jumps $1 million

Council committed to environmental components despite rising costs

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For the second time in less than a year council has approved a sizable budget increase for the new public library.

On Monday council granted $1.42 million more for the project, which has been beleaguered with rising construction costs, bringing the total budget to $9.7 million. The move comes just ten months after another million-dollar budget increase, also given to offset construction costs.

Even though municipal staff suggested a number of ways to reduce costs, such as getting rid of the low flush toilets and a skylight over the stairs and combining the heating/cooling system into one unit, council was not willing to lose some of these basic environmental initiatives.

At the request of Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, and at a cost of $80,000, several key sustainability components of the library remained on the table.

While that may cost Whistler taxpayers more upfront, Zeidler is convinced it will save money in the long run.

"On a life cycle basis I believe that the suggestions and the amendments that I put forward tonight that were supported by the rest of council will save this community money in the long run," said Zeidler. "As a matter of fact, I’m absolutely convinced of it. And it’s also the right thing to do from a sustainability point of view."

The low flush toilets will remain at a cost of roughly $10,000.

The $5,000 skylight will remain, allowing natural light to filter down the parkade stairs.

The air handling units, which heat and cool the building, will remain separate. This means the multi purpose room can be heated without having to heat the entire library. Using two systems instead of one will cost $46,000 more.

And the overhang, which shades the west end of the building from the sun, will also stay in place at a cost of $20,000.

"Looking at the vision statement of the library, this building was going to be our showcase of sustainability but does that mean that we’re building some kind of a monument to sustainability for unbelievable amounts of money?" asked Zeidler. "No, not really. The point that I wanted to make tonight is that for a tiny fraction of the overall budget we were deleting some items that really would have made quite a difference in the way the building performs and feels and those four items coming in at well under $100,000 I think make a big difference."

He points to the heating/cooling systems to illustrate his point. By having two units in the building it is estimated the library could save up to $1,500 a year. That assumes that energy costs stay stable, added Zeidler who campaigned in the November election on a green ticket.

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