Closed down coffee shop in Millennium Library may be used as a space for people in need

By | January 16, 2020

WINNIPEG — As part of phase two of the city’s Downtown safety strategy, a new report is recommending a “Community Connections Space” be set up in the former Human Bean coffee shop.

The report says the Library Services Division is requesting funding to convert the space for a two-year pilot project. The estimated cost is $236,000 as well as $25,000 for operating expenses.

The report says the area would be used to connect customers with social services who could benefit from them.

“The Library is a high-profile service area, located at the corner of Donald Street and Graham Avenue, which has seen increasing numbers of safety incidents over the last several years, leading to the implementation of enhanced security screening measures in February 2019,” said the report. “The Public Service has received feedback that some citizens may perceive the enhanced security measures at the Library entrance as a barrier to access, rather than an improvement to their individual sense of safety.”

It also says the space is meant to “reinforce” the library’s role as an inclusive area and will include:

  • Displays and other connections to community information, including resource information related to supports for mental health and wellness, substance use and addictions, housing/shelter and other basic needs
  • Access to Community Crisis Workers in a semi-private space
  • A community meeting room for use by community organizations that provide service to vulnerable and at-risk clientele, and to deliver programming to target groups in partnership with the Library
  • A small kitchen area to provide coffee, beverages, and snacks to those in need

The report says other community and government organizations have expressed interest in providing resources to help operate the space.

The phase two plan also includes tighter security measures for the Millennium Library parkade. It recommends limiting access to those paying for parking with the use of swipe card technology. Right now pedestrians have access to the parkade.

“Approval is being sought for the estimated $100,000.00 capital cost for the installation of card swipe stations to lock down the stairwells,” said the report.

There is also a recommendation to boost the exterior lighting grant program for businesses from phase one, from 50 per cent of costs to 90 per cent to encourage more uptake. The report says only $40,000 of the $300,000 available is being used.

The report also recommends the city cost-share with True North Sports and Entertainment for a Director of Safety Initiatives up to $125,000. That is part of the previously announced Downtown Safety Partnership involving the city, True North and The Downtown Biz.