Weston Library facing cuts

The Weston and Mount Dennis library branches will have to cut service hours if City Council accepts the recommendations of the city’s chief librarian. Both the Weston and Mount Dennis branches will be asked to close for an additional 2.5 hours every week.

The cuts have been ordered by Rob Ford, who told every city department to cut 10% of its budget. Not all libraries, however, are being told to close early. Of the 98 libraries in the city, 29 dodged the axe.

Despite Doug Ford’s stated willingness to close library branches, none of the libraries in the riding of the mayor’s brother are facing service cuts. Both libraries in Frances Nunziata’s riding are, however.

Rob Ford promised in his election campaign that “services will not be cut, guaranteed”. Cutting service will only solve part of the library’s budget problems however; collections will also be reduced.

Mike Sullivan supports open libraries in letter to council

Mike Sullivan, the recently-elected MP for Weston, sent a letter to Mayor Ford and all members of city council urging them not to cut libraries and essential services in Weston. He told them that the libraries here are not “part of the ‘gravy’ you took aim at in the election campaign”.

The letter says that the libraries should not be considered for review as ‘non-essential’ services. Sullivan writes, “In fact, to many residents of this riding, wards 11 and 12, there is precious little gravy in the services they need from the city.”

Sullivan also argues against increasing user fees or fines, and says that “adding or raising user fees… is also unnecessarily punitive” for poor residents. User fees “penalize seniors, the poor, and marginalized residents. First because these person tend to use services such as community centres, pools and libraries more than more affluent residents, and second because the addition of such fees becomes, in effect, a tax on seniors and the poor.”

Mike Sullivan ended the letter by saying that he would do his part in the coming months to urge the government to provide more funding for infrastructure and transit.

Nunziata says she won’t let libraries close

Frances Nunziata says the library union is “fear mongering” when it alleges that the libraries in her ward are vulnerable. She says

Residents of Ward 11 can rest assured that the Weston and Mount Dennis libraries will not be closed and any suggestion to the contrary is absolutely false.

The Toronto Public Library Workers Union put out a press release earlier this week that said the Weston and Mount Dennis libraries were threatened by the current cost-cutting at City Hall because they are in the ward of a councillor who is sympathetic to Rob Ford. Recently, Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, said that he would cut libraries “in a heartbeat“.

Nunziata says

As we are still in the early stages of reviewing all City operations, there will be rumours surfacing regarding cuts that will be made.  The review of the existing library system is one such example of how rumours have spread… The Weston and Mount Dennis libraries are not in any danger of being closed; if this was ever being considered, which it is not, I would fight tooth and nail to ensure that it did not happen.

Library Union says Weston branch in danger

The Library Union says that the Weston and Mount Dennis libraries are in danger of being closed because they have low circulation and are in the ward of a councillor who supports Mayor Ford’s cost-cutting plan.

Frances Nunziata, our councillor, is a long-time ally of Mayor Rob Ford. She supported him early in his election campaign, and she was given the role of Speaker in council. Her position, according to the Toronto Public Library Workers Union, now puts her in danger: she cannot be seen fighting his policies.

Both the Weston and Mt Dennis branches—the only ones in her ward—have low circulation numbers. Weston circulated 153,000 books last year; Mt Dennis circulated 130,000. The library that Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, said he would close “in a heartbeat”, has a circulation of 93,000, and a typical Toronto library circulates about 320,000 books, more than twice as many as Weston.

The press release is speculative. Nobody knows whether branches will be closed, or how that decision will be made. The library board voted Tuesday to defer until September considering the KPMG report that recommended branch closures . The press release says,

“We don’t know how the closure decisions will be made but it is not going to be an easy task, politically speaking,” says Maureen O’Reilly, President of the Toronto Public Library Workers Union Local 4948.

“If it is done strictly by circulation, residents in the Executive Committee’s wards will suffer the most because those councillors strongly support the Mayor’s cost cutting agenda and would have no other choice but to vote to close those libraries.”