Visitors to Calgary City Council must go through metal detectors, bag checks in September

WATCH ABOVE: The City of Calgary is stepping up security at city council chambers. Gary Bobrovitz takes a look at what steps are being taken.

CALGARY – The City of Calgary is beefing up security this September, requiring any visitors heading into council meetings to go through a metal detector or hand-held metal detecting wand and have their bags and purses checked.

The new protocol starts Sept. 14. The glass partition between the public and council seating areas has been raised and the number of guards in the council chamber will be increased when council is in session, said a release from the city.

“Security measures are similar to what Calgarians experience when attending sporting events or concerts,” said chief security officer and manager of corporate security Owen Key. “Standard screening should take 10 to 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.”

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If you’re visiting the municipal complex for a permit, to pay taxes/bills or get a bus pass, you won’t be subject to the screening; it’s just for people entering council chamber.

The city says visitors to council meetings should avoid bringing food and beverages (both are prohibited, though water is available inside) and make sure you’re not carrying any of the following prohibited items:

  • 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 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.

The city says people don’t need to take off shoes, belts or jackets to go through the metal detector, as travelers do in airports. Visitors will be asked to empty their pockets.

Visitors are also asked to tell security if they have a medical implant that may set off the metal detector. People in wheelchairs or pushing strollers will be screened with the hand-held wand.

The city’s corporate security department said the addition of metal detectors and bag checks was not due to an increase in security breaches.

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