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Major security changes could be coming to Toronto City Hall

Last Updated Nov 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm EST

A staff report to be reviewed by Mayor John Tory’s executive committee is recommending enhanced security measures at Toronto City Hall, including metal detectors, bag checks, and a glass wall.

The report dated Nov. 15 outlines several ways to boost security at the municipal building, based on assessments from the Toronto Police Service and Public Safety Canada.

“The primary goals of these proposals are to maintain an accessible, safe, and secure Toronto City Hall while providing a reasonable level of protection from foreseeable threats,” the report states.

One of the measures is “patron screening” through the use of metal detectors and physical baggage checks – the latter by security staff, X-Ray machines, or both.

The report points out that patron screening is done in various degrees at provincial legislatures in Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Quebec, at city halls in Calgary and Edmonton, the courts, as well as at the Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre.

Tory told 680 NEWS on Thursday the new security measures have to be considered.

“People are used to having some degree of security when they go into a hockey game or a rock concert, or even other public or private buildings, and City Hall is open, as we wanted to remain as much as we can, but striking that balance is really tough,” he said.

However, Coun. Gord Perks is not in favour, saying “we have a tradition of openness, transparency and inclusion at Toronto city government.”

Another suggested security measure includes providing a “physical separation between vehicles and persons.” Currently, there are already such “vehicle mitigation measures” in place around Nathan Phillips Square.

The staff report also recommends implementing a glass wall in council chamber and a “physical delineation of space” for two committee rooms.

The city adopted security measures after Canada’s domestic terrorism threat level was increased from low to medium on Oct. 1, 2014. However, since the threat level remains, the city says more permanent measures are needed.

“As there is no indication that the level will again be lowered anytime in the near future, there is a need to consider security enhancements as more permanent in nature,” report states.

If the enhanced security measures are approved, it will cost the city $500,000 in one-time capital funding, while adding extra security staffing will cost the city $774,000 more a year.

The executive committee will review the report on Tuesday. If approved, it will then head to city council on Dec. 5.