Yorkton looks to take control of public library

Seeks to pull out of regional body

The City of Yorkton has begun the process to establish the Yorkton Public Library as a stand-alone municipal library, which would effectively cut ties with the Parkland Regional Library.

The decision was made by Yorkton Council at the regular meeting of Council June 22. The matter was discussed in-camera without public, or media allowed.

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TheProcedures Bylaw now allows for personnel, property, legal, budgetary, or other items to go in-camera. No decisions are made In-Camera, it’s against the law. Council must ‘rise and report’ after the closed/in-camera session, and open the Council Chambers door for anyone who may be in the lobby waiting to return to the meeting to hear the decisions made when the meeting reverts back to an open session.

The process for the library, once in-camera, was initiated under the Public Libraries Act.

The actual motion, provided to Yorkton This Week by City Clerk Jessica Matasalla, was made by Councillor Ken Chyz and seconded by Coun. Mitch Hippsley was: that Council direct administration to begin the process to leave the Parkland Regional Library system, such that the Yorkton Public Library becomes a Municipal Library under the direction of the City of Yorkton and further; that in accordance with section 4.1 of the Public Libraries Act, 1996 that the City propose a boundary change for the “new” City library to be the same as the existing boundaries encompassing Yorkton City limits and further provide public notice at a future date in this regard.

The motion passed unanimously.

With the passing of the motion June 22, a process was began which has seen the City send notice to the chairperson of the board of the local library, the chair of the Parkland Regional Library Board, and the Provincial Librarian among others.

The notice serves to inform the City is seeking a boundary change for the region to essentially set up library independent of the reason.

Yorkton Mayor Bob Maloney told Yorkton This Week the process was initiated because the City seeks greater control of the library where it already funds most of the costs.

As it stands under the regional library umbrella the City has little control, said Maloney a situation that was brought into sharper focus with COVID-19 shutdowns earlier this year.

“We had concerns, especially when COVID started,” he said.

Maloney said the City shutdown most of its facilities, the library included, laying off staff that had no job under the closures.

“When business is interrupted you have to lay-off people,” he said.

But the staff lay-off notices at the Yorkton Public Library were rescinded by the Parkland Regional Library, said Maloney, which he said was untenable since the City pays the wages.

As a result Maloney, along with City Manager Lonnie Kaal, and Councillor Quinn Haider who sat on the Parkland Regional Library Board met with the rest of the Regional Board to discuss the situation.

However, Maloney said the Regional Board was not up to changing how it does things in regard to staff control.

The COVID lay-offs were just the latest example of a situation Council was not happy with.

“It’s been ongoing different Councils have wanted more control, control over a library that serves our community,” said Maloney, so the decision to create a more independent library was taken.

The move is not unique, said Maloney, noting Prince Albert previously moved away from a regional library association.

That said, it will not be an immediate change.

“It’s a very long process,” said Maloney, adding there are rules to follow, and the province will ultimately need to approve the boundary change request. To-date the City has not heard from the province on the matter, he added.

When complete the services will not change for the public, said Maloney.

For example, as a municipal library YPL would continue to be part of the ‘sharing’ that happens with the SILS (Saskatchewan Information Library System) which is the one province one library system which includes shared resources between libraries, explained City Manager Lonnie Kaal.

Further YPL would continue to provide services to our residents and those in the surrounding areas provided they have a ‘library card’, she said.

Maloney said the move is ultimately about having more control, not changing what is being provided.

“Yorkton residents won’t see a difference... Nobody is looking at cutting services... It will just be controlled by the City without there being a third party (the Regional Board) involved with operations of the library,” he said.

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