June 20th, 2024

Split vote by Economic SPC declines outreach position at Lethbridge Public Library

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on November 17, 2022.

Herald file photo A tie vote by Lethbridge city council, acting as Economic Standing Policy Committee Wednesday, put the end to a request by the library to hire a crisis intervention worker.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council has closed the book on two requests by the public library to create new positions including a crisis intervention worker.

A tie vote by council acting as Economic Standing Policy Committee Wednesday put the end to a request by the library to hire that worker.

With SPC vice-chair John Middleton-Hope filling in for mayor Blaine Hyggen who left the meeting late in the afternoon, council voted 4-4 to defeat an amended motion that would have called for using funds from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve to finance the position. If approved, this could have cost $87,700 in 2023 and $88,400 in 2024, with the conditional allocation of funding in 2025 and ’26 upon the receipt of a report in 2024 to council on programming through its Cultural and Standing Policy Committee.

If the motion had gone through to the final approval, the position would have cost taxpayers $90,100 in 2025 and $91,900 in 2026.

The SPC was told by library CEO Terra Plato that the library has a person employed in such a position on a pilot project for three-and-a-half months with funding scheduled to run out at year’s end.

Several councillors spoke in favour of the crisis intervention position with Jeff Carlson saying he was “heartened and thrilled” to see the description of the position, calling it an innovative way to deal with issues in the city.

Councillor Belinda Crowson called the initiative an innovative and brilliant idea that would reduce the use of other resources to deal with issues within the library.

Deputy mayor Ryan Parker said if SPC approved the position, the police would still be involved in issues at the library and approval would send a message to the province that the city was handling them.

The position was intended to build relationships, and provide informal counselling and referral services, de-escalating crisis situations of verbal and physical natures and “approaching patron behaviour modification from a restorative justice position.” It is also aimed at training library staff in supporting crisis support.

The SPC also defeated a motion put forward to create an outreach position by a 7-2 vote.

The motion called for the hiring of a staff member to focus on providing services outside the walls of the library. Library CEO Terra Plato told the SPC their staff don’t have the time to do that kind of community outreach.

The initiative said the position was needed because many people don’t know all of the services and resources that a library can provide. It added that connecting outside the library is a key to understanding community needs and connecting people to services.

Plato said the position was contained in the library board’s four-year strategic plan.

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Citi Zen

The library doesnt need a crisis intervention worker; simply call the police and have the undesireables removed and charged. It should no longer be considered a refuge for druggies.