ParkTales - Hundreds say No to cuts

 

More than 200 angry Parkdale residents 

say No to cuts at the Parkdale Library

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspective proudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.

The Parkdale Library was packed to standing room only by more than 200 angry residents to defend the library from cuts. 

At a public meeting Monday, November 7, called by Councillor Gordon Perks, the Library Board delivered their proposals for cuts to the Library in response to a request from Mayor Rob Ford for a 10 per cent cut.

The cuts proposed by the Library Board were:

Reduction of Library hours, including closing on Sunday and two mornings a week, Monday and Thursday.

Reduction in acquisition of new titles, DVD's and magazines.

Reduction in staff.

Well, I was so proud of my community as one by one residents got up to denounce these outrageous proposals.

One after another residents spoke so profoundly about the human cost to these cuts.

When Councillor Perks was asked what was the position of City Council on these cuts he responded:

"It has never gone before City Council."

According to Councillor Perks, Mayor Rob Ford sent a letter to all departments asking them to cut their budget by 10 per cent. This had not gone through city council.

The response in the room was yells of, "Then this is illegal."

"Who does Rob Ford think he is, a King maker?"

"Then, like the Police Board, we can refuse. We can say no cuts."

Anger spilled out in speech after speech.

Residents spoke of how much a part of their life the library was.

Newcomers to Canada spoke of how much they depended on the library and its affiliated services.

Seniors spoke of how much the library meant to them.

Young and old spoke of how they depended on the use of computers.

These cuts are being proposed in spite of the fact that the Library Board has reported that there has been a 30 per cent increase during the last 10 years in the use of libraries.

Some residents said they would be willing to pay to keep these valuable services and how much would it cost.

Councillor Perks worked it out to an increase of taxes of about 35 cents a day.

It is not a done deal.

Perks commented later:

"If there was one clear message from our community meeting, it was that a library is so much more than simply a library. Our libraries are community hubs providing more than just books but classes, youth programs, computer access, community meeting space, settlement services and all of the things that make a neighbourhood work."

We were encouraged to fill out a survey available at the back table of  just  how these cuts would affect  us as users of the libary. 

As I left I noticed the box was full of filled-in surveys, everyone responded.

I am convinced the cuts will not happen. The response of the community here in Parkdale and in other communities will not allow it.

I commented as I left, "If per chance Rob Ford succeeds in closing the library on Sunday then we should lock him up in the library every Sunday and maybe, just maybe, he might be forced to learn something."

My Parkdale 

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