StephenVance 270Construction on Meaford's new library has begun, the Sykes Street bridge rehabilitation is more than half complete, and the construction of the new school is about to get underway – the urban core of Meaford is a busy place these days.

Aside from being held up at the Sykes and Trowbridge intersection a little longer than usual due to the Sykes Street bridge rehabilitation project, it's really been quite painless thus far, even on busy weekends, but I'm expecting a little more chaos, confusion, and delays now that the library project is underway.

With the first half of the bridge work completed I have heard many comments from readers, some of whom love what they've seen thus far, while others have complained that you can no longer see the river below as you cross the bridge. No matter your thoughts on the bridge itself, we should all be thankful that the project is in the home stretch and things will soon return to normal at Meaford's busiest intersection – well, as normal as they can be with a major construction project underway at the same corner, but the overlap will be minimal, and we should all be thankful for that.

Libraries seem to be a hot topic of discussion these days, and not just in Meaford. With the major library project underway in this municipality, from time to time I scour the internet looking for library-related stories, and what I find is quite similar to the discussions I've heard in Meaford. When it comes to libraries, no matter where you are there seem to be two distinct camps – those that value libraries and are fighting to ensure their libraries are properly funded, and those that argue that books are going the way of 8-track tapes, and so libraries should be getting smaller, not larger.

I have seen the same arguments either in news reports or on social media from all over the country, and I can understand both camps and their perspectives but those that suggest that libraries are becoming obsolete haven't spent enough time in a library lately. Meaford's library is often bursting at the seams with activity due to the large number of programs that serve all age groups. Libraries have morphed into something more than books in recent decades. No longer simply a stuffy repository for heavy paper books, where a surly and bespectacled librarian would 'shush' you if you dared mutter a word. Libraries today are full of life, and are very active places, and while books in whatever format are still the foundation of libraries, they have come to be so much more, and mean so much more to many members of the community.

It's true that with the internet and our vast range of new technologies, paper books themselves are certainly less important to our everyday lives than they once were. Instead of flipping through hundreds of pages of musty old books to find information, we can simply pull our phones out of our pockets and have any information we could possibly desire appear in seconds, and if all we needed libraries for were the books themselves, then I would side with those who argue that a little storefront would suffice, but that's simply not the case.

Every municipality has a long list of projects that need to be undertaken, but funding is a major obstacle. So to see so much activity going on throughout the municipality, but perhaps most prominently in the downtown core, is encouraging, particularly for those who recall the very lean days of not so long ago when virtually no projects were being undertaken because the coffers were empty. Meaford is in a much better place today, and it shows.

When the new library is completed, we'll have a facility that should serve this community long after most of us reading these words are gone. The same can be said for the Sykes Street bridge, and the new school that will soon be underway. Preparing for the future is painful and costly, but those who came before us did it for our generation, and we must ensure that the community is solid and well equipped for the next generation.

And if you just can't get enough of issues to gnash your teeth over, fear not, we've got an arena that will require a significant amount of work in the years to come, and Meaford's treasurer has already flown a trial balloon by suggesting at council that there are arenas in communities surrounding Meaford that can be accessed in mere minutes, so does Meaford need an arena at all?

I have little use for the arena, but I will fight for those that do when the time comes, and it will come.

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