Airport-style security at Millennium Library, urban sprawl, homelessness among issues tackled at Fort Rouge town hall
WINNIPEG – More than 100 Fort Rouge residents and people representing community groups attended a town hall meeting Saturday to share information and come up with solutions to improve housing and community safety.
“These two, interrelated topics are crucial to our city. Housing for everyone in the city is a key determinant of safety and security,” said an email to CTV News about the event.
The town hall, organized by Coun. Sherri Rollins, included half a dozen speakers ranging from urban thinkers to local residents.
Some of the issues discussed included urban sprawl, the impact of sprawl on community and city services, access to affordable housing, infill housing, addiction issues, police budgets and preventing violence.
One of the statistics shared showed a comparison between 1971 and 2019. It said since 1971, Winnipeg’s population increased by 37 per cent, while the land area increased by 96 per cent.
One Fort Rouge resident Adam Dudeck walked out of the town after an hour.
"It's a bunch of fluff," he said
Dudeck has lived in area for 18 years and said he has a great neighbourhood that’s been going downhill.
He’s been upset about the mess under the Osborne Bridge from an abandoned homeless camp this fall, and said he expected the event to talk more about crime and litter, and the situation at the playground by his house.
"Needles, crack pipes, broken bottles, a lot of broken bottles. It's just become a very dangerous place for people’s dogs, people’s kids,” he said.
With time still left at the town hall, Rollins said Dudeck should have stayed because everyone was welcome to share concerns.
Rollins said housing and safety have an important link.
"Often times, you'll hear a lot about housing, affordable housing, lack of transitional housing, and the most emergent a 24-hour safe space," she said.
After presentations, town hall attendees worked in groups to share ideas and tackle solutions about housing and community safety.
GROUP CALLS FOR EXIT STRATEGY ON AIRPORT STYLE SECURITY MEASURE AT MILLENNIUM LIBRARY
Millennium for All, a group dedicated to eliminating airport-style security measures at the Millennium Library was one of the groups that weighed in at the town hall.
Spokesperson Sarah Broad said the group will be attending the meeting to call for an exit strategy on the security measures at the library.
The group’s demands include removing the security barriers. They remain concerned about the impacts security will continue to have on Winnipeg's most marginalized.
"It’s already so cold outside, and this is one less place that people can go and feel safe and welcome this winter if city council does not invest in the library,” said Broad.
Since the end of February, library visitors have had to pass through screening that consists of a bag check and metal detection via a hand-held wand.
In September, the city released a report and made recommendations about the measures. It found the number of incidents decreased along with attendance.
“After five months of screening at Millennium Library, the number of incidents has declined significantly. Attendance has decreased, but so has the number of prohibited items, such as alcohol, knives or other bladed weapons entering the library,” the report said.
“Emergency calls for WPS or WFPS assistance have declined and public support has increased in the time following screening implementation.
“The total number of incidents from November 2018 to February 2019 is 230; the total number from March to June 2019 is 81 –a decline of 64.8%.”
In an email to CTV News in September, Rollins said the standing policy committee considered the seven recommendations in the report, many of which were based on the premise of creating a path to eliminate the airport-like security.
Six of the seven recommendations were approved and pertain to intervention and prevention.
She said recommendation five, a $103,000 ask to purchase additional metal detection and create security lanes was not approved and removed.
Rollins also said administration would report back to the committee on implementation and a phasing out of the airport-like security.
On Saturday she told CTV News, Protection, Community Services and Parks passed a motion that will be coming forward through the budget process on the notion that it will end the security measures and augment crisis support interventions at the Millennium Library.