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Millennium Library reopens with new security features

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After being closed for more than a month, the Millennium Library in Downtown Winnipeg has reopened for all services with changes in place to address patron safety.

The first attendees could be seen lining up outside of the entrance Monday morning.

The library closed in December following the stabbing death of 28-year-old Tyree Cayer. It reopened later in the month for patrons to return books or pick up holds.

Last week, the city announced the full reopening, but with security measures in place. These measures include police officers on site and metal detectors when you walk in.

“We know there's a real division of opinion about these measures,” said Michael Jack, Winnipeg’s chief administrative officer. “Some would like us to go further, some didn't want us to have to come this far.”

The library previously had metal detectors installed at its entrances that were removed in 2020.

Jack says the measures are an interim solution as the city looks for a permanent plan to keep the building safe.

"We really are only interested in detecting weapons,” he said. “There's no interest in this interim measure in detecting anything other than weapons. And that's all our security personnel will be instructed to look for."

Jack says the metal detectors cost $6,000, and the added measures will cost approximately $10,000 per week, with the money coming from the library budget.

“We know there were safety concerns, and we know we had to take interim measures to get it reopened,” he said. “We tried our best to find the balance we needed to get open again, bearing in mind the significant concerns being raised by staff for their own safety coming to work.”

The city is awaiting the results of a security audit and risk assessment to determine its next steps.

Gord Delbridge, the president of CUPE Local 500, which represents library employees, said while it’s unfortunate that the new security measures were needed, he said it does relieve worker anxiety about coming to work.

He adds that there are issues outside of the community, such as addictions, mental health and homelessness, that are becoming more visible in the library, and plans are needed to deal with the issue.

“Just putting police at the library is kind of a reactionary measure,” Delbridge said. “And it’s not going to make these issues go away. What needs to happen is we need to step up and we’ve got to start putting resources in place to put supports in to help the people in need within our community.”

Kirsten Wurmann with the community advocate group Millennium for All says she’s disappointed seeing the measures, saying it is similar to the measures in 2019.

She wants to see more funding for social programs.

“I would bring in more staffing, I would fund, I would remove the police presence,” Wurmann said.

Bob Bidwell is a long-time library patron and goes almost every day. He is glad to see the security measures being taken.

“Hopefully now they will keep the security tight and keep it; not take it off again in a couple of weeks,” Bidwell said.

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