Security upgrades are coming to Winnipeg City Hall after councillors say safety is an issue, and current protocols to protect them fall short.
“It’s concerning to me to see what some colleagues have gone through,” said Mayor Scott Gillingham.
City CAO Michael Jack says the city is adding a new security lead position. The individual will bring forward safety measures, focusing on the city hall campus, which includes the council and administration buildings.
“I need them to take an organization wide look and really build something that I can call a comprehensive security program,” said Jack.
Jack says this has been in the works for some time. But it comes after a shooter, opened fire at Edmonton City Hall last week, and threw a Molotov cocktail. No injuries were reported.
Councillors in Winnipeg say they and their staff have been the subject of increasing threats and harassment. Markus Chambers says he’s received threatening letters.
“In my role as chair of the police board as well as the first black city councillor,” said Chambers
Councillor Sherri Rollins is calling for an external security review instead. She says she’s been calling for changes since May, because of stalking and other incidents.
“I’m talking about where it tips into criminal harassment where you do need a protection order,” said Rollins
Chambers says like the legislature and the law courts, it’s time to install metal detectors at city hall.
“Where people are screened for whether it’s edged weapons or guns,” said Chambers.
Mayor Scott Gillingham is open to the idea.
“I’m not opposed to them but first I’d like to hear from the security lead,” said Gillingham.
Right now, councillors and staff have secure key card access to their offices. Councillor Rollins says they need a secondary emergency exit. She says her colleague, Councillor Janice Lukes, keeps a bat and hammer in her office desk, in case she needs to break a window to escape.
“We do not have the basics of what you need to exit, the basics of the tools that are working,” said Rollins
Case in point, councillors have panic buttons but some didn’t know they existed. CTV News was told Lukes tested one, and it took 15 minutes for someone to respond.
“Problems were encountered and identified and so for several weeks now we’ve had plans in place to upgrade those,” said Jack.
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