The City of Winnipeg has changed the hours of the Transcona Library after it said a homeless person was sleeping in its vestibule and at one point barred the door from the inside, which is leaving some people concerned about their safety.
“You just don’t feel safe anymore,” Linda Villeneuve told Global News. “It was kind of scary. You didn’t want to bring your book back after hours because you never knew who you would run into.”
The library was previously open 24/7 to provide people access to the interior book return and to allow the use of smart lockers for book holds and pickups.
However, after continual issues with one person, the city said it needed to make the change.
“This has a negative impact on customer access and presents risk to the person in the event of a medical emergency, fire, etc.,” a city spokesperson said via email.
“We have taken steps to resolve this situation through staff interaction with the person, attempts to connect them with one of our Community Crisis Workers, and scheduling of mobile security to do checks during the evening and on weekends.”
However, city councillor Shawn Nason said it doesn’t resolve the issue and when the door is locked that individual will just go find another place that isn’t.
“How are we connecting that individual with supports? They’re going to come to the vestibule and you’ll find it locked. Where are they going to turn to next?” he said.
Nason said he is looking into whether other resources, like St. Boniface Street Links, were called in to help the person find shelter.
“We’ve got to try to break the cycle and find ways to connect them with the supports,” he said.
The city said it plans to have a new external book return chute installed as soon as possible and in the meantime, no late fees or no-show pickup hold fees will be charged.
Nason said he is hoping the hours will go back to normal and that this is only a temporary solution.