Well before the renovated library opened, the Library Board went to the City and asked for the City to approve security for the new library. This is not a new conversation: the idea of having security to help safeguard the new, renovated facility and its patrons once it opened was being discussed in the fall. Just for evenings and weekends. Just for 2018. As a pilot project. The cost? About $21,000. But they were turned down at budget time – this, in spite of the fact spent containers of alcohol and worse – needles – had been found in the old library before it was closed for renovations. There had even been reports of librarians wrestling n’er-do-wells to the floor.
This isn’t just people spinning yarns. This has been a real problem – and those who have first-hand experience with this had plenty of examples of real incidents upon which to base their ask. But Council said no.
Surprise! Fast-forward to February, the library has been open for ten days and there already are incidents of spent alcohol containers and syringes in the washrooms. So the Library Board of Directors took matters into their own hands and are hiring their own security for evenings and weekends out of reserves. To protect patrons, staff and the boffo renovated facility that cost nearly $13 million to renovate yet Council was reluctant to spend $21k to properly secure it?
Guess what, everybody. Peterborough has a drug problem. And a homeless problem. It’s winter. It’s cold. The library is warm and dry, and accessible to everyone. It’s a public space. There are no restrictions, as far as I am aware. And lest we think this is a new problem, there were a grand total of 20 incidents at the satellite location of the library when it was in Peterborough Square. But then, the library was in a space inside the downtown mall – which has security. And there were still 20 incidents.
In 2015 – the last full year the old library was open – there were 121 incidents.
I have no way of knowing if the City is liable for the safety of the library, or if the Board is – but the City was the one that approved the renovation and coughed up the $12+ million to do it. I don’t recall the Library Board taking out loans to have the work done. So it seems to me, as a public space funded and maintained by taxpayer dollars, it falls under the City’s purview.
Bravo to the Library Board for funding the security. The City should have. And perhaps the City ought to pay them back, too.