Vancouver staff increase security measures for public hearings at City Hall

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      The City of Vancouver has toughened up security at City Hall.

      The details are laid out in a March 30 two-page memo to Mayor Gregor Robertson, city council, and top city staff.

      It was written by Garrick Bradshaw, director of facilities design and management.

      "Recently there have been a number of public hearings held in Council Chambers where high attendance has resulted in disruptions of the meeting and/or has compromised safety of the public and Council," Bradshaw claimed.

      This prompted staff to revisit security protocols and the management of crowds for large public hearings.

      Tonight (April 5), council will resume a public hearing on building heights in Chinatown. It is expected to attract numerous housing activists.

      This will be followed on Saturday (April 9) with a resumption of a contentious public hearing into the relocation of the Edgewater Casino closer to B.C. Place Stadium.

      New security measures include:

      Ӣ Fire officials will review occupancy loads in the upper and lower areas of the council chamber. These will be posted, and corporate security staff will enforce them.

      Ӣ Overflow crowds will be directed to wait in the ground-floor media centre.

      Ӣ Crowd-control barriers will be erected in the third-floor lobby area outside the council chamber to maintain clear access.

      Ӣ The lower area of the chamber will be reserved for registered speakers and staff.

      Ӣ Speakers will be required to sign in at the ground-floor information kiosk. They will receive a numbered label. Only the first 40 speakers will be permitted into the lower level of the council chamber.

      Ӣ After speaking, they will be "encouraged to move out of this space to make way for those waiting to speak".

      Ӣ Additional security will be deployed to prevent people other than council members and staff from moving beyond the speaker's podium.

      Ӣ City clerk's staff will be able to press a "duress button" when necessary.

      "While it is a public building, access to City Hall after regular business hours is controlled by Corporate Security," Bradshaw wrote.

      In the final paragraph of his memo, Bradshaw stated: "These changes are being put in place to ensure the safety of the public, staff and Council members and that public meetings can proceed in an orderly manner."

      Vancouver city memo outlining new security measures in the council chamber

      Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

      Comments

      5 Comments

      Sean

      Apr 5, 2011 at 8:41pm

      Aren't there already issues with accessibility at city hall?
      Is this just to scare away the people from the DTES, who this meeting is for?

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      monty/that's me

      Apr 6, 2011 at 6:11am

      What's next? Cyclops (cameras) in the ceilings? in the stairwells? in the restrooms? Hidden mics? Checking Facebook pages Like Harper?
      If this venue is too small, choose another one. Perhaps one of their developer friends will ante up a ballroom.

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      Urban_Citizen

      Apr 6, 2011 at 9:36am

      Sorry Mr. Bradshaw, but "regular business hours" for City Council include evening hours. It would seem the City needs to re-think its approach, and perhaps their large public meetings need to be relocated to a facility that can actually accommodate the public. The ability of residents to participate in the muncipal decision-making process should not be regulated by the facilities manager. Be interesting to see how the Vision-dominated Council - who campaigned on transparency in government - will address this problem.

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      Walter847

      Apr 6, 2011 at 1:20pm

      I wonder if the general public will be provided with "duress buttons" in case the mayor starts swearing at them again?

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      Justavoter

      Apr 6, 2011 at 9:00pm

      Clearly those f*cking hacks (general public) need to be kept in control. Maybe Gregor's high priced Mandarin lessons weren't a waste after all. It would seem he learned some new crowd management techniques while visiting Tiananmen Square.

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