Edmonton libraries spent $1.5 million in 2022 dealing with results of social disorder: report by Stephanie Swensrude

Stanley A. Milner Library - Edmonton Public Library
Stanley A. Milner Library – Edmonton Public Library

Almost $1.5 million in Edmonton Public Library (EPL) funding went to dealing with the effects of homelessness, addiction and mental illness in 2022, according to a preliminary report from the city.

Ward papastew Coun. Michael Janz requested the information from city administration when EPL requested more funding during budget deliberations at the end of 2022.

He said this is one example of cities having to deal with a problem that is supposed to be under provincial jurisdiction.

EPL said some security was hired for general work — like locking and unlocking doors — not dealing with social disorder.

There were about 570 incidents of “customer distress” recorded in the report. That category includes opioid overdoses, of which there were 77 in EPL branches.

“Ever since the UCP closed the safe consumption sites, we’re seeing other places like transit or the library becoming a safe consumption site and that’s not OK,” said Janz.

The province has closed multiple supervised consumption sites across the province, instead choosing a recovery-centred approach. There are currently three supervised consumption sites in Edmonton. The province says there has been no reduction in service capacity, saying hours have increased at supervised consumption sites in the city.

Read the full article @ Global News
Photo CC-BY-NC Connie Crosby

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