A recent post by the anonymous blogger Nwkt Town Hall Watch on the future of our library service in Newmarket catches my attention. I use the library and I am interested in its future development.

The blogger, who delights in setting hares running, fancifully suggests that the Town has been conspiring behind the backs of the Newmarket Public Library Board and its Chief Executive, Todd Kyle, to reconfigure library services, working in partnership with Aurora and Whitchurch Stouffville. The blogger writes:

“Two years ago, I wrote about the need for the public library to amalgamate within York Region in order to save money and provide better services to the community… So it comes as no surprise that the Towns of Whitchurch Stouffville, Aurora and Newmarket are considering just that. Stouffville council members learned that talks were already underway for the three communities to work together on providing library service at their council meeting last night.”

He or she continues:

“It appears that the Town of Newmarket is working behind the backs of the Newmarket Library Board and its CEO.”

The strapline asks the question:

“Is Van Bynen keeping us in the dark about our library?”

Newmarket’s Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, has many virtues but, as I have said before, leading from the front is not one of them. Van Bynen is a man of process, procedure and rules and the idea that he is manoeuvering behind the backs of the Newmarket Public Library Board and its CEO would be absurdly out of character.

The blogger has a view of Van Bynen which few who know him would recognize. He is regularly portrayed as an evil schemer and manipulator, the senior partner in the so-called “gruesome twosome”. In reality the Mayor leans on his senior staff like a crutch, for the most part faithfully going along with their recommendations. His key initiatives germinate from seeds planted by others.

Library Fiction

The blogger asserts that talks are already underway for the three communities to work together on providing a library service. This is more fiction than fact.

At Whitchurch Stouffville’s Council meeting on 21 July 2015 a report from Rob Raycroft, the Director of Leisure and Community Services, was before the seven person Council, setting out the case for expanding the Whitchurch Stouffville public library on its existing site, more than doubling its footprint.

There is no suggestion in any of the written reports or the minutes of the meeting that Whitchurch Stouffville has been co-operating with its next door neighbours, Newmarket and Aurora, to increase library provision. It is left to a couple of WS councillors to fly that particular kite.

A Window of Ten Years

First up is Cllr Ken Ferdinands who (starting at 58 minutes) tells his colleagues:

“We have lots of land and we don’t have the population that is needed to support a library satellite or a second library. However, with the population that exists in Aurora and Newmarket and Whitchurch Stouffville we can build a centralized library… Perhaps a centralized library of 45,000 to 50,000 sq ft that serves the three communities should be given some consideration.”

“What the staff are recommending I think is appropriate in that we will be able to accommodate the growing (WS) population for the next eight, nine or ten years or so and that would give us a window of ten years to talk to Aurora and Newmarket and say, listen, is this of any interest to you because I think the future demands that we co-operate with one another.”

Food for thought

Ferdinands supports the staff recommendation to expand the WS public library on the existing site and describes the future overtures to Aurora and Newmarket as “just food for thought”.

His colleague, Hugo Kroon, is the only other councillor to pick up on this theme. He says a second library on the western edge of Whitchurch Stouffville serving 8,000 – 10,000 WS residents and 20,000 – 25,000 residents from Aurora and Newmarket would make sense especially when “someone else is going to be paying two thirds of it or more”.

He concludes:

“I think this is a discussion we need to have with the Councils and the Mayors of those two municipalities”.

Fair enough. But this seems a million light years away from the anonymous blogger’s conspiratorial assertion that Tony Van Bynen has been pulling the wool over the eyes of NPL Chief Executive Todd Kyle and the library board.

Where is the evidence that talks are “already underway for the three communities to work together on providing a library service?”

I see none.

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