This talk about metal detectors, bag searches and pony walls at City Hall isn’t over yet. A motion will be made at Tuesday’s council meeting to extend the debate that has only been behind closed doors so far, but this time out in the public.
Coun. Scott McKeen wants this rehashed, with potential input from you. “I’m not a fan of the idea,” McKeen said Monday, “so I just want us to have a full public discussion about it. I think that’s only fair to the citizens because in some ways we’re setting council back and apart from the public by doing this.”
According to the minutes from the October 24 Council Services Committee meeting which was held in private in the Councillors board room, McKeen was one of four to vote against the proposed security changes. He was joined by Tony Caterina, Ben Henderson and Mike Nickel.
Voting in favour of the administration’s recommendation were Bryan Anderson, Andrew Knack, Moe Banga, Bev Esslinger,
Ed Gibbons, Dave Loken, Michael Oshry, and Michael Walters.
“This City Hall is the public’s building,” McKeen said. “Democracy is about the public. It’s not about elected officials, so what I’d like to see and I will suggest, we’ll see how far I get with it, that we refer this matter to a council committee where people can come in and talk.”
The discussion was led by the administration that wanted some gaps in the system taken care of. That’s what prompted the meeting to be held in private, which McKeen said he understands. But now he said he’s heard from individuals who suggest what’s been decided on can set up an ‘us versus them’ mentality.
“If you have to go through a metal detector and a bag search, I know some people will feel more comfortable because they’ll think ‘they have good security here I don’t have to worry’ but other people will feel like they’re being treated as a criminal.”
“We should only expect that security consultants are going to bring back security measures. It’s what they do, it’s who they are, it’s the ocean they swim in. I think it would be the rarest of security consultants that would come back an go, ‘eh, don’t worry about it.'”
Different councillors had different reasons for supporting the security changes. For some, it was about concern from staff who sit with their backs to the public gallery, and the pony wall it has been suggested would buy security some time to intercept some one rushing from the spectators.
For others, metal detectors and searches are part of everyday security in venues like the Legislature or even Rogers Place Arena.
McKeen said he’s gotten some inspiration from a sign scrawled downtown by Make Something Edmonton, “take a risk, it’s the most Edmonton thing you can do.”
“It seems to me we have to put up with a certain amount of risk as public officials.”
“That’s the most Edmonton thing we can do.”