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'No for sale sign was ever posted': Yorkton Library saga continues at packed city council meeting

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A lot has been left up in the air after a marathon council meeting in Yorkton on Monday – which saw packed chambers.

“I’ve never witnessed that, ever,” Mayor Mitch Hippsley told CTV News Tuesday morning.

A total of 20 residents aired their grievances with council after an ad surfaced in the local newspaper last week, outlining the potential sale of the Yorkton Public Library.

It came as a shock to many, with no word on what the future of the library had in store.

“We do have some concerns,” one resident said.

“We will lose a lot of the partnerships — a lot of the programs,” another added.

The location of the new potential library has been earmarked within the second floor of the Gallagher Centre, which used to house a rehabilitation clinic. It would drop the square footage of the facility from 16,000 to 6,000, and would include a bit of a jaunt for some library regulars who have raised concerns over mobility issues.

The offer on the facility on Broadway Street is publicly disclosed as $1.5 million, but the city isn’t able to say who the buyer is, citing privacy laws.

“Moving the library came by chance when a business person asked if we might consider selling the building. No for sale sign was ever posted,” Hippsley said told council on Monday.

For some residents like Melissa Higgins, the library is a place to meet other new parents. She told CTV News that she participates in the children’s programs, looking to meet likeminded people.

“I felt compelled to speak out [during the council meeting] because selling this library and reducing the size so greatly, I personally don’t feel like it represents my needs as a taxpayer,” she said.

Other concerns over the move included humidity of the new space, being wedged between the Westland Insurance Arena and the Access Communications Water Park, along with the actual weight distribution of the books, and human weight within the space.

For Hippsley, it was an eye opening night.

“A lot of people caught wind … it was really wonderfully overwhelming, in a positive way,” he said.

“The demographics of all the people that were there and all the different [users], was really interesting and it told me it wasn’t just allocating, pointing in one direction. It was a broad spectrum of all the people that actually do use it.”

Hippsley said around 15,000 have used the library since the beginning of 2023.

In terms of moving the facility, Hippsley added that crime issues have become the norm at the library, with drug use, drug deals, along with overdoses being experienced in and around the facility — with staff members stuck having to deal with the issues.

“We tried to downplay that, but it’s a growing problem that’s real,” he said.

Hippsley said overdoses have happened within the public washrooms of the facility.

Yuri Forbes-Petrovich is the acting head librarian at the library, and he spoke twice during the meeting Monday. He raised multiple concerns, including if the $1.5 million figure was accurate as to what should has been asked.

“Great for Yorkton, but nowhere is it listed what the estimated or the actual evaluated value of the building and the property is,” he said.

Moving forward, council plans to discuss the next steps for the public library, and whether to move along with the sale.

Monday’s portion of the meeting was solely the discussion period of the sale, with the final decision expected during the upcoming council meeting on June 5.

If the city moves ahead with the sale, it’s expected the library will move to its new location in November, with renovations expected at the new facility.

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