The topic of enhanced security measures at Edmonton City Hall will be up for discussion again this week after the results of a public survey on the topic were released online late last week.
The city is considering setting up metal detectors and bag checks for members of the public who want to attend council and committee meetings. The city is also looking at installing a half wall to separate the public from city staff and councillors.
The topic was up for debate in the fall but city council put a halt on any security changes until the public had a chance to weigh in.
The city launched an online public survey in February, asking people several questions about safety and security measures inside City Hall.
The results showed 20 per cent of respondents would be less likely to attend a council or committee meeting if they had to go through a metal detector. Fifty-five per cent of people said the enhanced security measures would not keep them away and 20 per cent of respondents were neutral on the topic.
Similar results came from a question asking people about bag searches, with 20 per cent saying they would be less likely to attend a meeting if their bags were inspected by staff. Fifty-five per cent said it would not keep them away and 21 per cent were neutral.
Forty-three per cent of survey participants said they would actually feel safer attending a council or committee meeting if they knew people in attendance would have to go through a metal detector. Twenty-nine per cent of people disagreed with this and 25 per cent were neutral.
Forty per cent of those who took the survey said they would feel safer at a council or committee meeting if they knew people had their bags searched before entering council chambers. Thirty-one per cent of people disagreed and 26 per cent were neutral.
When it comes to a half wall barrier inside council chambers, 58 per cent of people said it would not affect their participation in council or committee meetings. Fourteen per cent said it would affect their participation and 23 per cent were neutral.
The survey was open to Edmonton Insight Community members and the public and about 2,067 people took part.
It’s not known if any one incident in particular spurred the change in security protocols, but outbursts at Edmonton council meetings are rare.
The topic will be brought up on Tuesday at the city’s executive committee meeting.
Here’s a closer look at how city hall security is set up in other major Canadian cities:
Visitors are required to check in prior to council meetings in Vancouver, but there are no metal detectors or screening processes in place.
Metal detectors were introduced at Calgary city hall just over a year ago for people who want to attend council meetings. Bags and purses are checked before people head into chambers.
There is a security presence during council meetings in Ottawa but no metal detectors or bag checks.
Toronto City Hall does not have metal detectors but there is chair-height glass divider between council and members of the public.
All entrances to Montreal council chambers are staffed by security and people have to pass through police check points on days when council meets.