Nova Scotia

Cost to relocate Lunenburg library doubles to $500K

One councillor admits he's not sure where the money to pay for the move to the Lunenburg Academy will come from.

Town councillor says initial estimates for the move to Lunenburg Academy were too low

The Town of Lunenburg took over the building in 2012 after the public school it used to house closed. (Robert Short/CBC)

The cost of relocating the library in Lunenburg, N.S., to a historic building in the community has doubled to $500,000 and one councillor admits he's not sure where the money to pay for the move will come from.

The figure — up from the original estimate of $250,000 — is contained in Lunenburg's capital budget for 2017-18, which has been passed by town council. 

Coun. John McGee said the town underestimated how much it would cost to move the library to the Lunenburg Academy, which dates back to 1895.

"We had to pay engineers to tell us that the floor needed further support in order to handle the load the library would put on it," said McGee.

"And of course there was the cost of doing that work which added to our costs as well."

A pricey move

McGee said initially he wasn't sure if any money would be required to move the library across town. 

We're only 2,300 people. How can we afford to spend half a million dollars to move the library?- Coun. John McGee

"We thought that they would just move in and just use it the way it was," he said.

"But then an architect was hired to design what the new library would look like and I'm sure that added a lot to the new estimates as well."

The councillor said he wonders where the money will come from to pay for the move.

"We're only 2,300 people. How can we afford to spend half a million dollars to move the library?"

Government support requested

The town has applied for government support and council has discussed selling the current library building — which McGee said is estimated to be worth between $250,000 and $300,000 — to help offset the cost of relocating.

McGee is also hopeful the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg will contribute to the cost, noting that county residents use the library more frequently than people who live in the town.

"The library does maintain statistics about who their members are," said McGee. 

Academy 'historically very important'

McGee said housing the new library in the academy will be "a great asset to the town" that could draw people to the area.

The Lunenburg library is one of four libraries run by the South Shore Regional Library Board.

Under the Nova Scotia Library Act, all operational costs such as programming, staffing and books are covered mostly by the province. The municipality is on the hook for all capital costs including building space.

While the board will ensure books are physically moved to the new space and pay for any new furniture and equipment, chair Troy Myers said there isn't any provincial money available for renovations.

That being said, the board supports the move to the academy, said Myers.

"It's a historically very important building, not just to Nova Scotia but to the entire country in my opinion," he said.