Transients gathering on the lawn at the Penticton Library was identified as a cause for concern in a recent survey. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Transients gathering on the lawn at the Penticton Library was identified as a cause for concern in a recent survey. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Traffic into Penticton Public Library slows, attributed to safety concerns

Foot traffic into the Penticton Public Library is down four per cent, according to a report found in the City of Penticton’s 2020 Corporate Business Plan, released last week.

According to the report (2020 Corporate Business Plan pg. 76), social issues and transients’ use of the space around the library has “created the impression in the community that the library is not a safe place to bring children.”

The library identified this as the cause of their decrease in traffic.

In their report, they explained that they are investigating STA training, as well as reviewing and revising their security procedures to help mitigate the problem.

Penticton RCMP confirmed that the area around the library, especially during the summer, is used by a large number of transient people. This use of space surrounding the library, they explained, has increased over the last few years.

This led to the hiring of security who have helped monitor the washroom area that, according to RCMP, was being abused.

However, the RCMP also said no serious incidents have occurred around the library, including no personal offences to the general public.

“I guess it just comes down to people’s perception, and in some cases I don’t blame those people for their perceptions, but the statistics as it stands right now wouldn’t show that the library is a hot spot of any kind at this point,” said Const. James Grandy.

The Western News previously reported that the Penticton Public Library was looking for feedback to ensure they are keeping up with the needs of the community.

Read more: Survey goes beyond the books at the Penticton Public Library

The results of the survey, completed between May and August 2019, included roughly 600 participants, about 90 per cent of whom live in Penticton. The other ten per cent who took part in the survey live in surrounding communities such as the Penticton Indian Band, West Bench and farther away.

Of the 569 who responded to the question, 337 individuals or families went to the library to use age-appropriate services for adults between the age of 31 and 64. Two hundred sixty one used services for seniors 65 and older, and 84 used services for school age children between five and eight years old.

Just 6.9 per cent of survey users use the library every day, while the largest majority, 50.5 per cent, use it on a weekly basis.

The library asked the public for suggestions on stock, programming and services, of which there was mixed response, with some very positive comments. Across the board, staff support was rated as excellent.

The overall security of the building was rated as mostly good, with 265 indicated security was good, while 139 voted excellent, 83 fair, 24 poor and 59 had no opinion on the matter.

When asked if they had any comments or suggestions about the facility, 189 individuals left just over 13 pages of responses.

Many expressed concerns about the number of transient people on the premises, and the amount of litter around the property. Some said they view it as an intimidating place and don’t feel safe bringing their families to the library or going there themselves.

Many others explained that they think it a shame the rear door was locked, as they always feel safe, and have never had an issue with the transient people on the grass outside. Others agreed and said solutions other than locking the door need to be found.

Several said they simply sign out a book and leave.

Others commended the library on making the most out of an existing space and “doing an awesome job, amidst (the) community’s social issues.”

Overall, 552 of 571 survey participants who answered the question would recommend using the Penticton Public Library.

To read the survey results in its entirety, including why patrons believe the library benefits the community, visit Shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/look-beyond-books.

What do you think? Write to us: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com


@philmclachlan
phil.mclachlan@pentictonwesternnews.com

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