News / Edmonton

Public criticizes 'obnoxious' new safety measures at city hall

Food and water were also banned from being brought into council and committee meetings

New security measures in effect at Edmonton City Hall on Tuesday.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

New security measures in effect at Edmonton City Hall on Tuesday.

New security measures went into effect at city hall on Tuesday and some members of the public aren't happy about it.

The announcement that food and water would not be allowed inside council and committee meetings was heavily criticized on social media, although the city said late on Tuesday that the water ban had been reversed.

“This is security theatre gone mad, with administration running unchecked and making irrelevant and obnoxious rules that unquestionably harm democratic participation,” said Troy Pavlek, a software developer and who also ran for Ward 11 in the 2017 municipal election.

He said council’s decision to let administration decide was a mistake as they have denied people “the most basic human requirements”.

Another person, Allen Gould commented on Twitter saying "They want searches? Then council and staff get searched too. No water? No water for anyone."

Back in March city council voted to let administration decide whether to boost security.

Visitors entering council chambers or the River Valley Room are now required to empty their pockets of metal objects and place them in a container. Backpacks, bags, large purses, cameras and other items are inspected visually as part of the screening process.

A large sign outside of both rooms also listed a number of items that are not allowed inside meetings, including food and drinks listed up top, as well as drugs, firearms, sharp objects and flammable substances.

“I was always concerned from the beginning about the impression this will create,” said Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack.

He had tweeted earlier saying, “I hope today is the last day people are unable to bring water to #yegcc meetings. At least provide water and glasses since that’s what we get.”

His tweet got a number of replies, some even questioning the screening process that the public had to go through before attending council.

“It worried me that it will push people away from being involved,” Knack said. “We have to find a way to refine this.”

He said he hoped administration would “take a step back and realize” that even in places like Disney World, with a much higher risk factor than Edmonton City Council, food and water are allowed.

He said he was concerned for people who were diabetic or had medical issues.

After the public’s reaction, Knack confirmed that administration lifted the water ban, allowing beverages as long as they are not in a glass bottle.

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