Halifax libraries answer concerns about homeless out in the cold
Recent calls have urged Halifax to adopt extreme weather plan for homeless
As winter hits Nova Scotia full blast, libraries in Halifax are offering the homeless and others a place to warm up as part of larger effort to reach into the community.
Spring Garden Road panhandler Rick Smith has been taking Halifax Libraries up on the invitation.
“Pretty cold, pretty cold,” he said. “Yeah, I go in once in awhile to get warm and I read a book and everything.”
Smith says he always feels welcome there, a message library CEO Åsa Kachan says they are trying to promote, saying it's an open and safe spot for everyone.
“We don't have many places in our community that don't require membership,” she said. “It's not loitering if you don't have to purchase anything, it's free and available to every citizen.”
The message is welcome news to those who work with the homeless, like Kevin Kindred, a volunteer at the Out of the Cold shelter in Halifax.
“A big part of the stress and struggle that people who are facing homelessness face is not just where they're going to sleep but where they're going to safely spend their day,” he said. “Not only away from the elements but access to books and computers.”
Kindred says the library also offers access to information and resources that can help homeless people.
What the library is doing is part of a bigger discussion around keeping people safe during cold weather that Halifax councillor Waye Mason plans to bring before council.
“Free transportation on Metro Transit when it gets down to an extreme weather event, also having warming centres in rec centres,” he suggested.
The city has no overall plan to deal with the homeless when temperatures drop and Mason says he hopes council will support his initiative when it comes to the table later in January.