News Local

Pembroke to host Book Tree 0

By Stephen Uhler, OBSERVER MULTIMEDIA JOURNALIST

PEMBROKE - 

A Book Tree may be sprouting soon in Pembroke, but it make take some time to work out an exact location.

Recently, the economic development committee was told the city is being considered for one of five pilot sites for a Book Tree, which is an outdoor, weather proofed structure which serves as a bookcase. Built from local wood, the Book Tree would be filled with children’s books supplied by Renfrew County’s Best Start Network, who is heading up the project.

Susan Ellis, the city’s economic development manager, said the concept of this project is to promote literacy in Renfrew County, and once up, these interactive outdoor displays will allow children and adults an opportunity to drop off "gently used" books and then pick up free books from the same structure.

“The project organizers will be responsible for building the stand, using local wood, and populating the trees with children’s books,” she said.

“The city is being asked to provide a site for the stand, and to support the on-going maintenance of it.” That cost, Ellis said, is not expected to exceed more than $250 annually.

City CAO Terry Lapierre said the city will have a say in where the Book Tree is located, and they will place it somewhere accessible and visible. He said the group has about $500 in seed money to make this happen.

While the economic development committee did support the project, three council members voted it down. Deputy Mayor Ron Gervais, and Councillors Bob Hackett and Terry O'Neill all said while they were all in favour of supporting literacy, they were all concerned about ongoing maintenance costs for the Book Tree, such as repairs and keeping it clear of ice and snow in the winter.

"I can't vote for this until I know what it is going to cost us" in the long run, Gervais said, explaining the estimates provided by Ellis are too uncertain for his comfort level.

The Best Start Network has received from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services a $25,000 Community Action Research and Innovation Fund grant. With these funds, the network has set up the Book Tree Fund which will cover the cost of developing the five Book Trees and support material. Petawawa has already signed up to be the host of the first site, making it the first Book Tree in Canada.

The Book Tree is expected to be set up sometime this spring, location to be determined.

Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

stephen.uhler@sunmedia.ca

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