County considers restricted access to public buildings

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Lambton County councillors want to consider restricting access to public buildings to protect workers from violence.

The province is looking at legislation which would recognize the effects of domestic violence in the workplace and allow for paid leave. County councillors at a recent committee meeting supported the idea but St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold asked to take it one step further. He and county councillors asked for a report on what it would take to secure all 50 county buildings including restricting public access.

Arnold says an employee at the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority – of which he is chair – recently received a death threat prompting the authority to look at security. “I want to make sure people don’t have the opportunity to do those kind of things,” says Arnold.

Sarnia City/County Councillor Anne Marie Gillis agreed adding it wasn’t just domestic violence the county should be concerned about. “Looking what happened down the road (in Strathroy)… we have to move in this direction,” she said making reference to a failed terror attack which ended in the death of Aaron Driver.

She added public bodies have been increasing security for employees since the 1970s noting she used to be escorted to her car, then, in the name of safety.

Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott questioned whether security concerns have a “snowball effect” making more controls necessary. Warden Bev MacDougall echoed the concern. “We have to balance public accessiblity with health and safety issues,” says Warden Bev MacDougall adding the security systems at some schools make her “feel like a criminal…We have to do this with balance,” she says “but it would be naive of us to say it is not happening here.”

Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan says tight security isn’t new. “We’re only catching up where industry has been for years,” says McGugan.

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