City of Winnipeg to consider phasing out Millennium library security screening

Millennium For All member Andrew Kohan holds a sign at city hall to protest ongoing security screening at the Millennium Library. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of Millennium for All member Andrew Kohan.

The City of Winnipeg says it will consider phasing out “airport-style” security at the Millennium Library as pressure from critics continues.

Library services manager Ed Cuddy told the standing policy committee on protection, community services and parks Monday that he’s open to removing security screening if certain conditions are met, such as hiring more crisis workers and providing more training for staff.

“I think we’re close,” Cuddy said. “I think we can work together and report back to the committee on how we plan to exit from screening, provided we have support for these other measures we’d like to see implemented.”

READ MORE: Data shows drop in incidents, visitors at Millennium Library since screening measures introduced

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Last week, a report submitted to City Hall showed the number of incidents at the downtown library dropped nearly 65 per cent since mandatory bag checks and metal detectors were introduced in February.

The same report showed the number of people attending the library has also dropped by almost 32 per cent.

Members of Millennium for All, a group opposed to the changes, say some of the people contributing to the drop in numbers are intimidated to go to the library.

“You can’t say just because you closed the doors and didn’t let people in that you solved a security problem,” group member Andrew Kohan said. “The point of a library is to serve people.”

READ MORE: Line-ups greet patrons as Millennium Library implements new security procedures

Kohan and other members of the advocacy group attempted to “shush” speakers in favour of the library’s security measures before being told they were out of line.

The group then held signs that read, “Shhhhame,” silently over their heads.

Despite the disruptions, committee chair Sherri Rollins said the meeting was productive.

“There was a good discussion today about community services and they are the kind of community services that we want to see, whether it’s a library, whether it’s a pool, Winnipeggers just aren’t comfortable with airport-like security at these things,” Rollins said. “There needs to be a free and open space for everyone.”

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Kohan said his group is pleased to hear the city is working on a security screening exit plan, but would like a timeline for the changes.

The city was not able to provide a timeline.