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Calls for assistance tripled at Yellowknife library in 2016

The City of Yellowknife saw calls for assistance at the public library more than triple in 2016 compared to the previous year.

That’s according to the city’s municipal enforcement division (MED), which carried out 643 calls for assistance at the library last year versus 175 in 2015.

Calls often come from library staff asking for help in removing rowdy individuals, but that number also accounts for patrols that officers have started undertaking to proactively prevent inappropriate behaviour.

“There’s definitely a need for patrols at the library,” said Doug Gillard, manager of the city’s municipal enforcement division. “There is a considerable amount of bad behaviour that goes on there.

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“Public intoxication, people passed out, the serious stuff is rare like fights … it’s more to do with people being intoxicated and passed out, and that’s not an activity conducive to a library.”

MED presence ‘definitely helps’

In previous years, Gillard says the city didn’t have the proper processes in place for library staff to call bylaw officers, and with no on-site security in the public space, staff were forced to deal with a lot of issues themselves.

With concerns for staff safety growing, community services and MED decided that more patrols at the library were a good idea.

“I think our MED presence at the library definitely helps,” said Gillard. “I think if we weren’t there that there would be a substantial problem there.”

MED began carrying out more random patrols at the library in 2015.

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With the hiring of a second parking position in September of that year, Gillard says bylaw has been able to increase vigilance where he believes it’s needed.

“The library is always a safe and welcoming environment for the citizens,” insists Grant White, director of community services with the city.

“Of course with any facility there are some inappropriate behaviours that happen,” White told Moose FM. “Certainly with the increase in the MED presence it helps to deter some of the inappropriate stuff that’s been happening.”

‘No triggers’ for behaviour

Gillard presented MED’s statistics to city councillors Monday. At the meeting, he said that just the other day bylaw was called to the library seven times in one day.

Other days, things go quiet.

“I don’t know what the trigger is, but it seems that you can go days without a call, and then there can be a trigger where we have numerous calls in one day,” said Gillard.

“I don’t know exactly what triggers that, whether it be weather or something to do with people not having other places to go.”

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