Library hours cut in Winnipeg’s preliminary budget

One of the casualties of the City of Winnipeg‘s preliminary budget is likely to be the hours of operation at city libraries.

The city says reduced hours at libraries are among the adjustments needed to account for the $4.7 million in expenditure reductions.

Right now, 14 out of the 20 city libraries are not open on Sundays.

The budget proposes cutting Sunday hours at the remaining six libraries — the Millennium Library, St. Boniface Library, Henderson Library, Westwood Library, Sir William Stephenson Library and Pembina Trail Library.

The budget also proposes that no libraries will remain open past 8 p.m., a change that would impact all of the libraries.

For Shirley Storli, who uses the Millennium Library regularly, the changes are upsetting.

For people with families, some say the weekend hours are the only times that they can take their kids.

“That time is good for families. Most of the time from Monday to Friday they have school and study or I’m at work so it’s better for us on weekends — Saturday and Sundays.”

Others see the move as positive if the city is saving money.

“You can’t go wrong with that. They have to do what they got to do. I trust the government or system to do what they have to do,” library user Jeremiah Coats said.

In the budget consultations, the community services department officials brought forward a list of 21 things that would need to be cut to meet its 0.5 per cent budget increase cap. The list included closing down the Westwood, Fort Garry and West Kildonan libraries as well as reducing hours at other libraries.

Director Cindy Fernandes says drastic cuts would be necessary to manage mandated salary and benefit increases for staff.

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