‘Public space should be truly public’: Mixed reactions to Millennium Library reopening

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‘Public space should be truly public’: Mixed reactions to Millennium Library reopening
Teagan Rasche has reaction to the interim security measures being put in place at the Millennium Library, as it gets set to reopen Monday – Jan 19, 2023

Through the revolving doors of the Millennium Library in Winnipeg is a world of opportunity.

Besides books, it provides Wi-Fi access, workshops and a warm space. These are invaluable resources for many in the community.

“I usually come here for books, internet, that’s about it,” library patron Kelly Hill said.

But after the tragic death of 28-year-old Tyree Cayer on Dec. 11, 2022, the library temporarily closed its doors.

On Monday, it will reopen but with new interim security measures while officials await the results of a security audit.

The union representing library workers says this will help staff feel more comfortable for now, but more needs to be done.

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“I think everyone can agree that there is an issue here in society that needs to be addressed,” CUPE Local 500 president Gord Delbridge said. “We’d like to see the provincial government step up, other levels of government step up and provide resources because by putting police and security in place here, is just moving some of these issues and problems elsewhere.”

Some of the new temporary measures being added include a controlled entrance to the library with stanchions and a walk-through metal detector.

Two Winnipeg police will also be on site along with four additional security guards.

Click to play video: 'Victim in Millennium Library homicide remembered'
Victim in Millennium Library homicide remembered

“Public space should be truly public,” said Breda Vosters, director of grants and information for Resource Assistance for Youth (RAY). “I think what they’re doing at the library is, a lot of people will see it as necessary, but we aren’t solving the social issues.”

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RAY has concerns with the new security measures as the library is a popular place for its clients.

“People who are houseless have to put everything that’s important to them on their person. If they can’t access the spaces that they need with those items then again we are leaving them very stranded,” Vosters said.

The new measures are just a temporary solution. The city will make an implementation plan after getting results from the ongoing security audit.

In the meantime, some library goers are welcoming the changes while others disagree.

“I will likely start going to the Cornish branch instead,” library patron Rob Shaw said.

By Monday at 10 a.m., the Millennium Library will be open for business.

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