By Anna Smith
It’s with mixed emotions across the board that the Irvine Library and Community Resource Centre continues as planned.
The March 28 Cypress County council meeting featured an emergent item, where a motion was put forward to reconsider the current plan and remove the centre from the 2023 budget.
Several council members said they, alongside staff, were experiencing harassment from a small group of Cypress County residents in regards to the placement of the centre in Woodward Memorial Park.
“I had a director look at me and say he needed to send people out to do something in Irvine, but he’s worried about sending people out there. When you’re the boss and you’re worried about sending people, we have a problem,” said Reeve Dan Hamilton.
While it was noted after Council that there were no recorded threats of harm made to Council or staff, Hamilton added the safety of staff was the priority that drove the initial decision to possibly reconsider, and concerns regarding setting precedent in regards to lobbying that caused them to continue with their initial course.
“Nobody should be bullied into making a decision. And that you asked me personally what the problem was in my head. I was worried about the staff. And my gut feeling to be bullied into making a vote was not right. There was lots of effort put into that library. There’s lots of consultation with the library boards and everything else to get to that decision on what was made,” said Hamilton.
“Enough is enough. It’s going forward. Whatever they want to do from now on, that’s it, leave our staff alone,” said Hamilton.
On the evening of March 30, the newly formed Irvine Community Association issued a statement in response to the events of the March 28 meeting.
“There are many in the community of Irvine and area with deep concerns surrounding the new community resource centre,” said the association. “The community of Irvine was not given the opportunity to have a voice regarding the placement of the community resource centre. When sincere inquiry was made about a lack of opportunity […] the repeated message from Cypress County was that community input was not required.”
Over the past few weeks, the newly-created association has met to discuss courses of action, including writing actionable, effective letters, document phone calls, and how to gather and share information surrounding this and other projects.
The goal of the group is to facilitate a community voice for the future, and to promote positive development in the community, according to the release, and “encourages citizens to be positive and respectful at meetings and in all other conduct regarding this development.”
The first Irvine Community Association AGM is set to be in the near future, to hopefully get the organization started on participating in future growth and being a positive part of any future developments.