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Location concerns table book box discussion

Posted on December 7, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

Concerns around the proposed location of a memorial book box led Coaldale town council to table the discussion.

During their regular Nov. 27 meeting, Coaldale councilors reviewed a request for a book box installation.

The 3rd Coaldale Scouts want to install a memorial “Book Box” in the public right-of-way on the corner of 20 Avenue and 13 Street. The town had previously received an inquiry from the Scout group in spring  2023. The Book Box would be in memory of a troop member who had passed away.

A Book Box is a community structure whose purpose is to provide users with free access to literature. People can take or leave a book at the box, free of charge. The concept has become increasingly popular in recent years. 

“Throughout the summer and fall, town administration worked with the representative of the group to determine feasibility, strategize management of the structure and determine an appropriate location,” said Hailey Winder, senior planner for the Town. “The 3rd Coaldale Scouts troop have constructed this book box… and would like to donate the structure to the town for public use and enjoyment.”

Parks and Recreation staff have indicated they would be happy to assist in the general maintenance of the structure, so long as it is on Town lands. Operations staff have indicated they can assist in the location of any utilities and installation free of charge, should council approve the installation.

As the scouts’ regular meeting location is in the community centre, adjacent to the corner of 20th Avenue and 13 Street, they would be able to monitor the location of the structure and alert the Town if any vandalism does take place. 

Winder noted the request is not dissimilar from the Litte Free Pantry installation request on Town land from 2022, and the difference would be the contents of the structures. Winder said she had received no complaints in regards to that installation, and it was monitored by the applicants.

Mayor Jack Van Rijn noted that they have had some issues with vandalism with the Little Free Library in town, with doors being ripped off of it, and raised concern over the location being a right fit for the Book Box.

“I am about getting books out to the general public, but I just want to make sure that that is going to be the proper location, with it being on Main Street,” said Van Rijn.  

When asked about the scouts attendance at the meeting, Winder said they couldn’t make it.

Coun. Jacen Abrey shared Van Rijn’s location concerns, and would like to discuss with the scouts and administration alternate locations.

Coun. Lisa Reis asked how many other Little Free Libraries are in town, to which Winder said she wasn’t sure, as they would be on private property or pop-up ones, and this request was before council as the planned location was on Town property. When Reis asked about vandalism on the other Little Free Libraries, Winder said she wasn’t aware of any but can’t speak on it in detail.

Coun. Bill Chapman suggested they table the discussion and look for another location.

“I’m kind of hearing around the table that this might be a concerned location, but I’m fully in favour of the plan, and the idea and, of course, the utility of this idea,” said Chapman. 

Van Rijn reiterated the need for representatives of the scouts to be present at council when making the request. Council then tabled the discussion.  

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