Is the Library board’s security request the canary in the coal mine?

An art depiction of a coal minor with a canary- U.S. State Department

For over 80 years, canaries were used to detect carbon monoxide and other toxic gases before they could potentially harm humans, according to the Smithsonian Museum. 

The Sault Ste. Marie Public Library (Main Branch), located less than 500 meters from the site of the yet-to-be built Downtown Plaza, is starting to feel the feathery panic of the tiny yellow songbirds. This was the message that the Library Board provided to Council on Monday night; that the construction of this facility may make them the canary in this scenario. This statement put forward in an apparent attempt to challenge the decision before taxpayers are on the hook for the over $8 million dollar plaza.

When presenting their budgetary request on Monday night, Library Board Business Director, Rosanne Chan, indicated that they were requesting a part-time security guard for the library.

“We are asking $30,000 in order to contractually hire a part-time security guard to improve the security and safety for the public and our staff.”, Chan told council. “Our security and safety needs are due to an increase in the number of incidents in the downtown area, but also as a recommendation on behalf of my joint health and safety committee for a number of reasons, such as the increase in severity of the incidents, drug use and paraphernalia on library property.”

The City of Sault Ste. Marie has suggested that these issues will be addressed at the new Plaza site by design and extra security features. Incidents like the ones Chan was referring to, as well as an additional one at a nearby local business, seem to suggest that security at the future plaza might be an issue.

The Library has already implemented many of the items that the City plans to do in terms of security at the Plaza once construction is completed.

“Patrons [who] are intoxicated or have mental health issues, or long response time from police [who] are on-call security for preventative actions.”, she stated as existing reasons for increased security detail. “This year we’ve added more security cameras and exterior LED lights on the premises.”, Chan continued. “We’ve added more panic buttons for emergency notification, and in previous years, we’ve conducted an environmental scan with police services.”

In relation to the slow police response times mentioned earlier in the evening, City Communications Manager, Tessa Vecchio, pointed out that this seems to be the one thing citizens seemed to want more than anything else.

Policing is important and it’s been said time and time again.

“New this year, we ventured into some online polling. So Village [Media] polls were consistent with what our survey, and the survey conducted with, we’re saying.”, stated Vecchio. “So interestingly enough, we still see policing services are very important, followed by social community and senior services, as well as economy and job creations.”

Would an increase in policing help? What are other solutions to the problem beyond private security?

Stay with SaultOnline/ONNTV as we continue to delve into the issues surrounding our downtown core.


  1. Is this just going to circumvent proper policing budgets? Will branches of city services have their budgets end up being boosted to account for on-site security? I guess if its cheaper to contract out for that type of position and need as opposed increasing level of policing service then I suppose that is fine.

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