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Mold problem forces Port Elgin library to close

Village councillor adamant closure will be temporary


Published on August 8, 2017

The Village of Port Elgin is closing its library’s doors due to a mold problem.

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PORT ELGIN, N.B. – The doors of Port Elgin’s public library will close later this month but at least one village councillor is vowing the measure will only be temporary.

A mold problem was recently discovered in the municipal building that houses the library and the village office and council has been forced to start looking for new locations to accommodate those services.

We’re losing so many things. You just get to the point where enough is enough.

Coun. Val MacDermid.

“Obviously we had to get out of the building,” said councillor Val MacDermid.

MacDermid said council determined the mold issue would be too costly to clean up, coming with a pricetag of about $25,000, and there were also other electrical and foundation repairs required to bring the 100-year-old building up to proper standard that would cost another $150,000.

“The building is in rough shape,” she said.

MacDermid said the village is in the process of building a new $1.2-million fire hall and has recently invested about $400,000 into its water and sewer infrastructure, so the municipality simply can’t afford to take on another capital project at this time.

“We’re maxed out with debt load.”

The building will be vacated as of Aug. 27 and council is in the process of solidifying a location for the village office but has yet to find an alternate site for the library, although there are options they are pursuing.

She said the village contacted the regional library office to let them know of the mold issue and that’s when a temporary closure was suggested, since it was unclear how long the library would be without a home.

MacDermid is adamant the library will re-open in the near future but made it clear that it will likely take some effort from the community for it to happen.

“If people want to work to get it back, then that’s what we’ll do,” she said. “We’ll probably have to raise some money . . . but if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The loss of the library would be devastating for the village of fewer than 500 people, said MacDermid, which has continued to see a number of services cut in recent years, including the closure of its Service New Brunswick office, a bank and a credit union.

“We’re losing so many things. You just get to the point where enough is enough,” said MacDermid.

The library has been a mainstay in the community since the 1960s, carrying over 7,000 titles and boasting a membership of more than 600. MacDermid said it is a well-used and much-appreciated service in Port Elgin and its outlying areas – and residents are feeling pretty upset about the pending closure.

“It’s the hub of the community,” she said, noting the library offers an array of children’s programs, literacy activities, book clubs, Wi-Fi and computer access, and more.

During the library’s temporary closure, member’s records will be transferred to the Sackville Public Library and patrons can also access titles through the mail service free of charge. All of the library’s contents will be stored at the regional office until the village can “get our own space again,” said MacDermid.