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Toronto City Hall begins new visitor security checkpoint at main entrance


February 24, 2020
By PJ Boyd

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As of Feb. 18, visitors to Toronto City Hall at 100 Queen St. W., will be required to go through new visitor screenings including a walk-through metal detector if they want to enter the building.

This new screening for visitors is the same metal detector and screening process that the city has been using since December 2018 to screen visitors entering the Council Chamber. The city describes it as being similar to the screenings done at large sports and entertainment venues.

The decision to move the walk-through metal detectors to the main floor follows  assessments done by Public Safety Canada and the Toronto Police Service, signed off by Chief of Police Mark Saunders. The move is designed to reduce the number of security check locations in the building and expands the secure space to the full building.

“We believe that it’s going to help maintain a safe and secure and still acceptable city hall, providing a reasonable amount of protection from foreseeable threats,” said Dwaine Nichol, director of corporate security at the City of Toronto for the past 20 years, who spoke to Canadian Security.

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Foreseeable threats were very obvious to locate during baggage checks and also through the metal detectors. His team have found weapons that had moved past the baggage checks and were capturing in the metal detectors. This allowed them to see that individuals have been entering city hall with concealed weapons, he said.

Nichol said he did not ask for additional operating funds for this move. Instead, he was able to use existing guards that had been doing baggage checks on the main floor and guards stationed at the council chamber’s metal detectors. He says that by consolidating hours and re-assigning individuals to key entrance points, his team is able to use the same amount of guards at City Hall as they had previously.

Nichol indicated that this is a temporary measure as the city considers other measures. City Hall security is looking into alternatives to metal detectors, such as technologies that allow mass screening of objects that are made from metal or nonmetallic materials. Nichol hopes that new measures would allow for a quicker and less obtrusive screening process.

“Knowing what is expected from the citizens of Toronto and knowing that the building is such an iconic building, it’s important to us that we’re able to do this in a really customer-focused manner,” said Nichol. “Do it in a really customer focused manner that is as rapid as possible to get people in to take care of what they came to city hall to do.”

Beginning Feb. 18, visitor access to City Hall will be from the front doors facing Nathan Phillips Square and the parking garage/PATH entrance only.


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