Increased security measures at Winnipeg’s Millennium Library are only an interim solution to an ongoing problem.
That’s the message from the city’s mayor and the president of the union representing library workers as the downtown library re-opened Monday morning.
The library, which closed its doors after 28-year-old Tyree Cayer was stabbed to death there on Dec. 11, 2022, will see the addition of a controlled entrance with a walk-through metal detector, as well as four additional security guards and two Winnipeg police officers.
Four teens, aged 14, 15, and 16, were arrested and charged, three with manslaughter and one with second-degree murder.
Victim in Millennium Library homicide remembered
CUPE 500 president Gord Delbridge told Global News that many workers still have anxiety about the traumatic event on the job, and while the changes will temporarily help them — and library patrons — feel safe, they’re just band-aid solutions.
“It’s a necessary measure at this point in time. It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, but the city’s got a legal responsibility to ensure that our members, the staff here, have a safe worksite,” Delbridge said.
“They see the need for the necessary security measures, additional police, additional security, metal detectors — but on a going-forward basis, I don’t know that this is what’s going to solve the problem within our society. This is going to shift some of the problems here just elsewhere.”
Scott Gillingham on Millennium Library opening
Delbridge said the city — with the help from other levels of government — needs to focus on systemic issues like creating affordable housing, as well as addictions and mental health supports, if it wants to see a positive impact long-term.
“We need resources … to address some of these needs. We can’t continue to neglect what’s taking place here in society.”
Although the December homicide provided the impetus for the current security measures at the 45-year-old library, it has been a controversial one, since the installation of airport-style protocols in 2019, which led to protests about the screening measures running counter to the library’s community goals.
While a report that year showed there were fewer incidents at the library after those measures were put in place, it also showed a drop in overall library attendance.
Critics of the security measures called them racist and classist, suggesting that homeless people, as well as Indigenous and Black library users, were singled out.
Mayor Scott Gillingham said an audit is currently underway for the city to determine what the next steps will be to ensure library safety going forward.
“I think what’s important is we’ve had lots of dialogue with the city staff — and with the union as well. … We need to make sure that the library is a place where people can have confidence to come and feel that it’s safe for them,” Gillingham said.
“Right now, there’s a safety audit being conducted and that’s really important, to determine what is really needed long-term to make sure the library’s a safe and secure place. Once we get the recommendations from that report, we can decide.”
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