Millennium Library critics don’t want recommended security changes lost in ‘disappointing’ city budget

By | November 9, 2019

A group of people who have publicly criticized the airport-like security measures at Winnipeg’s Millennium Library are hoping to hold the city to recommendations its community services committee made in September.

Sarah Broad, a spokesperson for Millennium for All, said the group is worried the expenditure targets for the next four years released by the City of Winnipeg last month don’t include funds to cover recommended additions at the library.

At its September meeting, the community services committee recommended measures including non-violent crisis intervention training, a cultural provider, a new community connections space and two more crisis workers to enhance safety at the library.

“We’d really like to see some strong leadership out of city hall, since it’s been two months since that meeting,” Broad said this week.

The city unveiled the broad strokes of its first four-year budget planning process on Oct. 18.

The city’s planned expenditure targets for 2020-23 would hold community services to a slim 0.5 per cent increase per year — which Broad said won’t bring the department anywhere near the almost $570,000 needed in next year’s budget to meet the committee’s library safety recommendations.

“It’s really disappointing at this point. We’re really concerned that a 0.5 per cent increase doesn’t even cover the cost of inflation — never mind trying to also cover extra staffing and training for staff at the library, and an exit plan for these [existing] security measures,” said Broad.

The new measures, which the library said were implemented earlier this year to address an increase in the number and severity of security incidents, include bag checks and hand-held metal detection screening.

A spokesperson for the City of Winnipeg said in an email that the city’s multi-year budget process is underway, but did not say whether the library recommendations are on the table for next year’s budget.

The community service committee’s budget presentation is scheduled for Nov. 16 at 9:30 a.m., the city’s website says.

Broad said it’s important to protect libraries, especially as barrier-free community spaces seem to be in short supply.

“There are people for whom the library is a place of safety,” she said. “And that is a really, really important thing. We’re running out of those places. We’re running out of places where you can just go and simply exist.”

On Saturday, the group will take its concerns to a community engagement event hosted by Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry Coun. Sherri Rollins to discuss housing and community services.

“We’re hoping to see some movement and some action,” said Broad. 

“We really care about community safety for everyone, and that includes the people who, right now, are not able to get into the library, or at least don’t feel like they are able to go to the library.”

The town hall will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.