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Baggage screening, metal detectors being considered at city hall

Last Updated Jun 13, 2018 at 2:08 pm EDT

Council Chambers at City Hall in Toronto. THE GLOBE AND MAIL/Deborah Baic

The city is being asked to consider new enhanced security measures at Toronto City Hall, including baggage screening and walk-through metal detectors.

The Executive Committee is set to discuss a report from the deputy city manager at its meeting on June 19.

Among the recommendations is checking the bags of everyone who enters city hall as well as installing walk-through metal detectors at the entrance of council chambers.

Currently, visitors to City Council undergo a baggage check by security guards for prohibited items, including weapons, upon entrance to the council chamber. The recommendation is to move this level of screening to the main entrance areas of City Hall.

The cost of installing the metal detectors is pegged at $85,000, while the cost of implementing the baggage screening will be $162,000. The hiring of four additional security officers and extending security hours for the baggage screening will cost $365,000 a year, according to the report.

As well, there are recommendations for new physical security measures to replace the ropes in council chambers and to further delineate the public and reserve space in committee rooms 1 and 2.

The report recommends continuing the glass wall that separates the public and the councillors’ area in chambers and replacing the decorative ropes with swinging half-doors. It also calls for increasing the height of the existing glass wall by 30 centimetres if the metal detectors are not approved.

Retractable barrier belts would be installed in the committee rooms, which would only be used in the case of meetings that have significant public attendance or meetings where there exists the reasonable expectation of disruption.

These measures would further enhance moves already undertaken in December 2017 when council voted in favour of new vehicle-mitigation measures. These included putting up perimeter posts around Nathan Phillips Square in order to prevent any vehicles from mounting a curb and plowing into a crowd of people.

A survey conducted by the city in March found 79 per cent of Toronto residents were in favour of security screening at public entrances, and that support jumps to 83 per cent when it comes to using metal detectors.