New library bylaw under review

The Centennial Library in Hay River has been promoting literacy and hosting cultural events for close to 25 years. NNSL file photo

The Centennial Library in Hay River has been promoting literacy and hosting cultural events for close to 25 years.
NNSL file photo

Pat Wray, chairperson of the library ccommittee and long-time supporter of the institution, would like to see a proposed new bylaw governing the municipality’s relationship with the library be passed sooner rather than later.

“To this point, we’ve had no official authority,” she told The Hub last week. “This bylaw will give that to us. We’re just becoming official.”

At the Feb. 10 council meeting, councillors discussed the draft document that would formalize the town’s position with regards to the still-technically GNWT asset that is the NWT Centennial Library. Under recent legislation, the municipality has to either control the library itself or designate a committee to act as the authority over the operations of the facility.
“We thought we had better get things in place,” said Wray.

The committee, along with Coun. Kandis Jameson and deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind have been working towards a solution. The brought forward a draft bylaw to council last week, and although it still needs some work, both members are confident in what has been achieved thus far.

“This is giving them the authority to act as an employer,” said Jameson. “Which right now, they do not have.”

Some councillors were concerned the bylaw was one step towards taking control of the library entirely, something there is neither the money nor the political appetite to do. Coun. Brad Mapes pointed out that Hay River isn’t the only municipality in the South Slave making use of the library and that it does technically function as a territorial asset.

While Jungkind assured council that she had written confirmation from the GNWT that the bylaw would not “negatively impact” the territorial funding the library receives, some councillors were still doubtful.

“We need to have a way to angle the GNWT,” said Mapes. “We can’t manage our own buildings, where does it say we’re not going to be taking over this one?”

Coun. Keith Dohey suggested the bylaw be amended to include a condition stating that it be contingent on the GNWT holding up their end of the funding bargain.

Wray said she didn’t know any more than that about any proposed amendments, but was happy the matter was finally up for discussion before council.

She said the committee has been working towards a solution with the municipality for years and would like to see negotiations end well for all.
“Once we know what council has in mind, we can go from there,” she said.

-Sarah Ladik