County council may need to 'perform some magic' to agree to site of new Kentville library

Kirk Starratt
Published on January 6, 2016

KENTVILLE - Wayne Atwater fears a magician may be needed “to perform some magic” as Kentville and the county debate the location for a new library in the town.

The county councillor said at the Jan. 5 meeting that magician Al Bernard might be needed at an upcoming session between the two municipalities. At stake is the location of the proposed Kentville Library; the town and the county disagree on the best spot.


New or old?

Kentville council expressed a preference for a new building to house the Annapolis Valley Regional Library branch after the initial request for proposals was submitted, but the County of Kings came to a different conclusion after evaluating the second request for proposals.

County council approved a motion Nov. 3 agreeing to equally share lease costs for a relocated Kentville library with the town. Conditions included that both municipalities have equal input into the relocation site, both agree on the site and that the municipalities are able to negotiate an acceptable lease agreement. Kings chief administrative officer Tom MacEwan and Kentville chief administrative officer Mark Phillips were previously directed to review both proposals and make a joint recommendation.

The two proposals are widely different: Parsons Investments is proposing repurposing the United Church of St. Paul and St. Stephen as the new library, while the Whynot Group wants to construct a new building on land across from the Kentville police station.

MacEwan said he and the county’s economic development specialist independently scored the proposals. They both determined Parsons was the highest scoring proponent by a significant margin. Kentville had earlier expressed a preference for the Whynot proposal.

“I advised the Kentville CAO of our scoring and asked him for their scoring. They haven’t shared their scoring with us,” MacEwan said.


Meeting coming up

Kentville town council has invited county council to attend a special in-camera meeting on the matter Jan. 11 at 3 p.m. County council voted Jan. 5 to table further deliberation on the site selection until this meeting has taken place.

Coun. Peter Muttart said the county couldn’t go into the meeting with a precluded decision. He suggested having a respectful discussion and to “be prepared to be persuaded to their point of view.”

MacEwan said, if there is a difference of opinion, “we have no agreement on cost sharing.”

Coun. Patricia Bishop said she would like to see MacEwan’s staff report retracted, as “it doesn’t demonstrate mutual respect.”

Municipal solicitor Jonathan Cuming said the document couldn’t be retracted but suggested that perhaps the language could be softened.

Coun. Pauline Raven asked if staff would be willing to amend the site recommendation “to facilitate a more open approach” to discussions with the town. MacEwan said his site recommendation, based on scoring criteria, “is not going to change.”

Coun. Kim MacQuarrie tried to amend the motion with a condition Kentville reciprocate with its scoring prior to the in-camera meeting but this was defeated.

Coun. Wayne Atwater said the county has been forthcoming.

“We’ve played all our cards,” Atwater said. “We’ve shot our load but they haven’t shot their load back.”

The changes have left some councillors questioning the county’s involvement. Coun. Dale Lloyd said he can’t support the project.

“We’ve changed direction entirely and I don’t feel good about it at all.”


What they said…

“I don’t like this set up. It has a smell to it as far as I’m concerned.” – Coun. Dale Lloyd


“I don’t like us talking speculatively about things up their (the Town of Kentville’s) sleeve. We may be delighted.” – Coun. Jim Winsor


“It doesn’t set us up well to be talking about tricks and bad smells in an open public forum.” – Coun. Pauline Raven


“We need to show good faith. This isn’t about trying to put them (the Town of Kentville) in an awkward position.” – Deputy Warden Brian Hirtle


“If they have a trick up their sleeve, let’s go listen to it. It’s a secret until we get there Monday.” – Coun. Wayne Atwater