June 24th, 2024

Changes coming to shore up security at city hall

By Collin Gallant on May 23, 2024.

Medicine Hat city hall is shown in this December 2022 file photo.--News File Photo

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Changes are coming to how residents access city hall, including the closure of the main doors, according to a release that details new operational changes to accommodate construction and address safety concerns.

“These changes are a temporary measure to provide a safer facility, and to accommodate the upcoming construction and installations,” city building management director Jeff Hoglund said in a release. “Like all security measures, this is scalable to increase or decrease depending on the current situation and risks.”

As of June 3, public access to the building will limited to the west entrance, not through the main doors that open onto the plaza at the intersection on First Street and Sixth Avenue.

It is not immediately clear if that change is temporary.

Public parking for visitors will still be available in the parkade, but elevators from the parkade will now be limited to open on the main floor, where a security desk will greet visitors, who will be directed to their destination.

Ground-floor washrooms also remain available to the public during business hours, but many work areas now feature doors to limit access to employees only.

“City hall is a public building, though there is still an obligation to provide a safe working environment for staff – and to ensure members of the public feel a sense of security and privacy while interacting with city employees,” said corporate services managing director Dennis Egert.

He said the changes align with “best practices” at other municipal, provincial and federal buildings.

“Our goal is to maintain appropriate public access to the required services while considering the safety of staff and members of the public … We want them to feel welcome and comfortable while ensuring that the facility is used appropriately.”

Earlier this year, the main reception and security desk was moved away from the main entrance and the stairway in order to give unobstructed view of both street entrances, including one on the west side that opens toward First Street.

The city made the change shortly after a man in Edmonton was arrested in January after throwing a molotov cocktail and firing several shots at city hall there before he was tackled by a security guard.

A review of building access and security had been underway in Medicine Hat, said local administrators at the time but could be accelerated.

Work has also been underway at the second-floor planning department reception area.

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