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Extended hours at Sudbury library to help the vulnerable stay warm

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The chief librarian says they want the Greater Sudbury Public Library to be a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

It’s now operating on extended weekend hours to give the vulnerable a place to go on Saturdays and Sundays, a time when other services are closed.

“During the winter months we are a warm space a space that has washroom access and things like that,” said Brian Harding, CEO and chief librarian of the Greater Sudbury Public Library.

“(It’s) a critical service to make available during these frigid winter months to make sure everyone remains safe and that they have a place to go.”

The library said there has been a security guard on-site at the main branch for a few years now and that service covers the extended hours.

The bathrooms are locked as a harm-reduction measure with officials confirming there have been overdoses and drug positioning on site.

“Having the washroom locked allows us to monitor the use of the washrooms to ensure that if an individual is discovered to be in that washroom for a prolonged period, we can do wellness checks on the individual to ensure that they are safe in there,” said Harding.

The city received a $426,000 federal grant at the end of December to help increase supports for people living unsheltered this winter.

“It needed to be spent by April 30 of this year, so it was a very quick turnaround,” said Gail Spencer, the manager of housing stability and homelessness for the City of Greater Sudbury.

“What we did was just reach out to our existing partners to see where we could enhance hours increase services for this population.”

The city said the $11,000 in federal funding for extended weekend hours at the library runs out April 28. The library added it’s currently evaluating its regular operating hours.

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