City of Calgary to cover councilors’ home security systems despite ongoing threats – Calgary

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that the monthly stipend for monitoring should come from advisor compensation. This is a taxable benefit for advisors. We regret the error.

The City of Calgary will cover the costs of home security systems for councilors who want them, following protests outside the homes of the mayor and another councilor earlier this month.

This follows a confidential briefing to council by City of Calgary Corporate Security at the start of Tuesday’s council strategy meeting.

Based on an administration recommendation, the council voted 8-7 to award each councilor reimbursement of up to $8,000 to cover the costs of professionally installing home security systems in their houses.

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The motion also allows for a maximum of $100 per month for “surveillance,” a taxable benefit that will come from city coffers.

In a virtual press conference after the meeting, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the measure was temporary because a motion to discuss continued funding during budget deliberations was included in Tuesday’s vote.

“I’m not fully aware of my co-workers’ financial situation, and not knowing if they have the means to do it on their own was something that pissed me off a bit,” Gondek said. “I want to make sure that, given what is happening right now and the continued escalation, my public service colleagues have access to funds to protect their homes and families.”

“That’s why I voted for.”

According to the old regulation, security costs for residential alarm systems were not eligible expenses for elected officials.

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Councilors Sean Chu, Sonya Sharp, Dan McLean, Andre Chabot, Raj Dhaliwal, Terry Wong and Jennifer Wyness voted against.

“It’s not asking for special treatment,” Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott told the council. “It is asking that we recognize that the threats made to elected officials are higher and always more important.”

Funding for home security systems is not mandatory and is up to each advisor’s choice to use the funds.

Gondek said the money for security systems will be covered by an existing administrative account and is not an increase in councilor office budgets.

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Some advisers felt that if there are concerns for individual security, those advisers should pay for mitigation such as a home security system with their own money.

“I think safety is important for me and my family to keep them safe. I feel like I’m making enough money to pay for it myself and I will,” said Sharp, who represents Ward 1. “So I can’t support what’s in front of me today, but I will support my colleagues in other forms to have conversations about where and how they can be safe in this role.”

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Click to play video: ''Disturbing trend'': Protest outside the home of Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek''







‘Disturbing trend’: Protest outside Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s home


‘Disturbing trend’: Demonstration outside the home of Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek – January 10, 2022

“That’s what we signed up for,” McLean told the board.

District 2 Com. Wyness said she respects her colleagues’ safety concerns, but fears it gives the impression that the council is prioritizing its own safety over that of the community.

“The message we’re sending is not about Calgarians coming together, Calgarians have a safe city,” Wyness said. “We sent the message that councilors need to be urgent and the community is not.”

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Several advisers questioned the timing of the administration’s recommendation and why an update took place at a board strategy meeting, which is usually reserved for long-term planning sessions.

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City Manager David Duckworth said the city administration wants to act as quickly as possible on matters involving the safety of the public, elected officials or city employees.

“There have been incidents over the past two months that have been reported in the media,” Duckworth said. “I can tell you that these incidents are expected to continue in the future and we felt it was important that time was running out.”

Earlier this month, a protest against COVID-19 health measures took place outside the home of Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

In a video posted on social media, several protesters stood in the street outside Gondek’s home, holding signs against vaccination mandates and health measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Premier Jason Kenney reacted to the protest at the mayor’s house, calling it “just fake”.

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“There are plenty of opportunities to demonstrate without disturbing the families and neighbors of officials,” Kenney tweeted January 10.

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Calgary police said at the time the protest was brief, but they would investigate in concert with city security.

Another demonstration took place in front of the Ward 9 Coun’s house. Gian-Carlo Carra last week.

“Needing security is not an advantage, it’s not an advantage, it’s a by-product of the environment we live in,” Ward 11 Coun said. Kourtney Penner told the council. “I am discouraged that we do not recognize the threats that lie in wait for us and that we occupy a position which is not a position of ordinary citizen.

Gondek addressed the costs, saying they were assessed based on the maximum security needed in the councillors’ homes. But advisors aren’t supposed to use the full $8,000.


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“That doesn’t mean every councilor’s house will have to have those kinds of expenses,” Gondek said. “Where this has been considered, there may be certain types of houses where a little more is needed, this could be granted.”

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“The maximum spend was given today, I don’t believe that’s what will be spent.”

According to Dr. Kelly Sundberg, associate professor in the Department of Economic Justice and Policy Studies at Mount Royal University, home security systems are a “very small step” in keeping elected officials safe and more is needed.

“I think you have to coordinate intelligence, law enforcement and more,” Sundberg said. “I think we’re going to see that become more and more widespread and more visible.

“It’s a sad reality, but I don’t see it changing.”

Gondek said she wouldn’t opt ​​for the financing because her home was risk-assessed by the City of Calgary’s corporate security when she was first elected to the bench. city ​​council in 2017, when she made improvements out of her own pocket.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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