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Rows of resources and volumes of value



RMOW Policy and Program Development

While there has been much ado about dollars when it comes to our shiny new Whistler Public Library building, there has been little ado about the value an $11 million investment in concrete, hemlock and green roof will bring to our ever-evolving mountain resort town.

In just over two decades, Whistler has gone from having no library, to one that lived in the basement of Muni Hall, to a “temporary” trailer facility which seemed to push the boundaries of “temporary,” to one of the most thoughtfully designed, sustainably built, avant garde civic buildings in British Columbia — a jewel in the cultural crown we so love to wear.

On Jan. 26, hundreds of excited citizens strolled through the front doors of the new library and were greeted by more than books. Behind the shelves is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which deals with major environmental and energy efficiencies built into the structure that will ultimately bring long-term value and returns.

“For every dollar you put into efficiency and design, you get 10 dollars in return over the building’s life,” says Darryl Condon, lead architect on the project.

Much has been said about the structure, but significant, yet intangible value will be delivered by the space. Beyond sports and recreation, above retail and past restaurants is a tough place to get to… it’s called a whole community with engaged, mentally fit citizens and this library is going to be a great wayfinding point in our shared journey toward success and sustainability.

“The library is a community place where the programming adds real and long term value to Whistler,” says Martin Pardoe, RMOW project lead on the library. “This is a fitness centre for the mind and the admission is free. Bring your own muscles.”

If the village is the heart of Whistler, the library is our soul.

Stephen Vogler, local writer and historian, agrees: “The library provides, right in the centre of our village, a hub of culture and learning and that is something that is needed in a village like ours as it primarily evolves around commerce and recreation.”

With one of the highest per capita library usage rates in B.C., Whistlerites are into their library. At 12,000 square feet, we now have a library we can all get into and enjoy — one that is spacious, airy, full of sunlight and user-friendly.

“We are seeing everyone embark on this journey,” Condon says. “Whistler is not alone now and a lot of communities will look at this facility as an example to be imitated. There is a widespread understanding now of how community buildings can make a difference and that wasn’t the case when we started this project.”

Not to undervalue what the library board and staff have done with the time and space they have had to work with to date, Vogler says the new library is a big step toward community maturity. “This facility is well worth the expense as it provides this community with value that was sorely lacking,” he says. “The library, Millennium Place and the Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre will create a great triangle that arts, culture and learning can revolve around.”

Passionate dialogue, learning and programs formerly limited to pubs, clubs and coffee shops will find a new home in the library. With its central village location close to transit, and its warm, inviting design, there is no reason not to feel at home in the new locals’ living room.

The moment the doors opened to the public, the talk of cost became old and tired and the value dialogue began. Drop in to the most valuable building in town, it’s free.

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