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Library seeks approval for a $9.5-million loan for Harbourfront branch

The Regional District of Nanaimo is considering whether or not to take a $9.5-million loan request from Vancouver Island Regional Library to the electorate.

At its committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, the board endorsed the approval of seven recommendations that would send the loan through the alternative approval process, thereby allowing the regional library to purchase and renovate the 26,875 square foot building which houses the Nanaimo Harbourfront library branch.

Joy Adams Bauer, library spokeswoman, said the purchase makes financial sense for the organization and its members for the simple reason that debt servicing costs will be the same as or lower than current expenditures to lease the building.

“It’s exciting times for us,” Adams Bauer said. “It’s a well used branch, very popular, and it needs a bit of freshening up, so we’re excited to be able to do that as well as own the building.”

The library leased its portion of the building (approximately 25,000 sq. ft.) since the branch opened in 1997. It has recently come up for sale, and is appraised at $8.25 million, Adams Bauer said.

Purchasing the building would also allow VIRL to lease out a portion of the building for approximately $37,000 a year, as well as build up about $380,000 a year in equity.

The annual debt payment, based on a 25-year repayment schedule, is estimated at $608,115. That amount will be divvied up between jurisdictions within the library’s service area.

For taxpayers in the Regional District of Nanaimo this will mean that approximately 59 cents to 81 cents per $100,000 assessed home value will be allocated from their regular library tax requisition, which varies by electoral area.

“There is no new cost to the RDN taxpayer for this borrowing,” said Wendy Idema, RDN director of finance.

Should the regional district support the request, voter approval will need to be obtained through an alternate approval process.

Regional district staff have set a deadline of April 9.

Based on the number of electors within the RDN, approval will be obtained if less than 11,253 electoral response forms opposing the borrowing bylaw are obtained before the deadline.

A final decision on the loan request is expected to be made at the board’s regular meeting later this month.

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