New Council Chamber Security Enhancements
Visitors planning to attend Council meetings in the Council Chamber will soon have to undergo security screening to get in.
“Keeping citizens, employees and Council members safe is our number one priority so we regularly review and assess security processes in municipal facilities,” says Owen Key, Chief Security Officer and Manager of Corporate Security.
Starting September 14, there will be a new visitor screening process requiring everyone entering the Council Chamber to pass through a metal detector or undergo screening with a hand-held detector and have their bags, backpacks and purses checked. The height of the glass partition between the public and Council seating areas has been raised by 35.5 cm and the number of guards in the Council Chamber will be increased when Council is in session.
“Security measures are similar to what Calgarians experience when attending sporting events or concerts,” said Key. “Standard screening should take 10-15 seconds per person, and while we don’t anticipate it will cause long lines, on those days when there is a long agenda or public hearings, it’s best to arrive early to avoid any delays.”
Visitor screening is only applicable to the Council Chamber, explains Key. “If you’re coming to the Municipal Complex for a permit, to pay taxes or bills, or to buy a bus pass, these changes will not affect your visit.”
Visitors wishing to enter Council Chamber should follow these simple steps:
- Don’t bring food and beverages as both are prohibited. City water will be available inside Council Chamber via a water cooler.
- Ensure you are not carrying any prohibited item.
The following items are prohibited inside Council Chamber:
- Food and beverages;
- Weapons, including mace or pepper spray;
- Illegal drugs or substances;
- Firearms and ammunition of any type;
- Explosives and flammable substances;
- Noisemakers; and
- Knives, blades, razors, edged or sharp objects and striking devices. A kirpan with a blade less than six (6) cm in length may be brought into Council Chamber. The kirpan must be identified by the carrier and it must remain sheathed while in Council Chamber.
- Visitors do not have to remove shoes, belts or jackets to pass through the metal detector. They will be asked to empty pockets prior to passing through.
- Metal detectors are safe for all individuals, including pregnant women, children and people with pacemakers. They operate at a very low frequency of electromagnetic pulses, which are lower than levels in a cell phone or garage door opener. There is no exposure to radiation.
- Visitors should advise security staff if they have a medical implant that may set off the metal detector. Those visitors will require additional screening with a hand-held wand.
- Visitors in wheelchairs or strollers will undergo screening with a hand-held wand.
- Individuals with service animals must walk through the metal detector with the animal. If the alarm sounds, the individual and the animal will undergo screening with a hand-held detection wand.