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Vancouver City Hall steps up security for council meetings

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Security for council meetings at Vancouver City Hall has been stepped up, at least in part because of an increase in harassment, threats and violence directed at elected officials.

Starting Tuesday, members of the public and the media are being screened with metal-detecting wands and having their bags searched before they can access council chambers.

Magnus Enfeldt, the city's chief safety officer, declined to say whether the move was prompted by any specific incidents or concerns, citing the "evolving security environment" and similar measures that are in place in other Canadian cities.

"I cannot go into into specifics. In general, I would say that there is a lot of reports of politicians, elected officials across the country receiving more and more harassment and threats," he told CTV News, saying Calgary and Toronto are examples of other municipalities that have this type of screening.

"We've made a recommendation to go with this this this setup versus having nothing, versus having something more risky," he added.

The screening is being done by contracted security workers, and Enfeldt estimates it will cost the city around $100,000 a year for personnel.

The goal is to prevent anything that can be used as a weapon from being brought into chambers, whether or not it is metal. The goal, he said, is to balance the openness and accessibility of City Hall with safety.

Enfeldt would not say if anything was detected or confiscated during the first hours that the screening was in place, or if anyone was turned away as a result.

The Vancouver Police Department, in an email, said the force was not involved in the decision and also declined to comment on whether there have been any specific incidents or threats.

"It would be inappropriate to share details about specific incidents at the building or incidents targeting specific individuals," spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison wrote. 

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