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Proposed personal hygiene policy at Montreal libraries raises eyebrows


A new policy about personal hygiene at a public library in Montreal is raising a lot of eyebrows.

Beginning in the New Year, if someone's hygiene is not up to standard, they might be asked to leave.

People who work with the homeless population are not pleased with the new changes to the library policy, which have to be adopted by the borough councils before they can be enforced.

The city says it's going to review the wording being used to make sure it's inclusive and doesn't discriminate.

According to the changes tabled at the last Ville-Marie borough council meeting, a person would not be allowed to sleep in the library and employees would have the right to ask someone to leave if their personal hygiene inconveniences visitors or staff.

They could also be subject to fines up to $1,000 for a first offence.

James Hughes, President and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission, worries these kinds of rules are really just meant to target the homeless.

"To be part of the library ecosystem with everything it offers — computers, books, connectivity with other people — and this new rule that comes into place puts into question whether or not they're also welcome in those environments," he said in an interview.

"This is another example of the problems of cohabitation in the City of Montreal. Using our parks, using our metros, [and] now using our libraries. Who's welcome and who's not?"

Hughes has other questions about the policy, including who would determine someone's public hygiene is offensive and who would be tasked with asking people to leave the library?

In a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante wrote that the city is going to change the wording of the proposed regulation to make sure it reflects the city's desire for inclusion in all spaces.

"It must be recognized, however, that library staff are faced with delicate and complex situations, which need to be better managed. We will provide managers with a guide to help them apply the appropriate regulations in a humane, sensitive and respectful manner at all times," she wrote in the publication.

"Montreal libraries, like all public places in the metropolis, will always be inclusive, safe and welcoming places for everyone." Top Stories

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