Home security costs for Calgary councillors to be covered by the city

Recent protests at elected officials homes spurred the conversation forward, according to City Manager David Duckworth

Calgary city council, 2021. LIVEWIRE CALGARY FILE PHOTO

Calgary city councillors voted 8-7 favour of paying for the installation of home security systems of elected officials, after recent incidents at councillor homes.

After coming out of a closed session where councillors heard a briefing from corporate security, a motion was put forward to cover costs associated with the systems.

That motion, posed by Coun. Courtney Walcott, would allow for up to $8,000 for the equipment and installation of a home security system. It would also allow for $100 per month for the monitoring, which would be a taxable benefit. These would be funded from the city’s corporate costs.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said this would be a temporary solution and would be reviewed in the upcoming four-year budget.

Under the previous bylaw, home security expenses weren’t eligible as councillor expenses. It is also an opt-in program, administration said.

In recent weeks there have been protests outside the homes of Mayor Gondek and Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra. Both had groups of between 15 and 25 during the protests. The groups dispersed before Calgary police had arrived.

Mayor Gondek, who will opt out of the funding, had a security audit done on her home when first elected as a councillor in 2017. At her own expense, she upgraded her home security at that time.

Not urgent business, said Coun. Wyness

There was some concern from Coun. Jennifer Wyness over how quickly it was brought forward. She didn’t think it was urgent and found it ironic that some councillors who supported this, didn’t want to support added funding for Calgary’s police.

“I think we really need to take a good long look at what we are presenting here and take time to build our motions and consult with the community,” she said.  

“Let’s build a safe Calgary. Don’t prioritize ourselves, prioritize Calgarians.”

Coun. Jasmine Mian asked for context around why this was brought forward today.

City manager David Duckworth said they talked about the security of administration and elected officials.

“When it comes to whether it’s public safety, the safety of the administration, or the safety of elected officials, we tried to act as quickly as possible,” said City manager Duckworth.

He said there have been incidents recently reported in media that spurred this conversation.

“I can tell you that these incidents are expected to maybe continue in the future,” he said.

It was learned later that this was first flagged after an admin review of expenses last spring. It was meant for a further conversation, according to Mayor Gondek.

“It was brought to our attention that we should probably have such a conversation today,” she said.

“And as a result, what we have is an opportunity for any councillor that wishes to access support for a home security system.”

Duckworth went on to note that security issues, particularly with elected officials, is on the rise.

“As I mentioned earlier, incidents like these are expected, based on our intelligence, to continue in the near future and perhaps even get worse,” he said.

Additional perks for councillors?

Both Couns. Andre Chabot and Dan McLean said councillors accept the personal safety responsibility when deciding to run for office.

Coun. Chabot said it amounted to giving councillors added compensation.

“I can’t support an amendment that increases Council compensation, because in my opinion, if members of council required increased levels of security, they should be utilizing their own renumeration to cover those costs,” Chabot said.  

“I believe that there are many taxpayers out there that feel that they should have increased amount of security that earning significantly less than we are and they’re not provided that same opportunity.

Coun. Evan Spencer said the conversation is disheartening. And it gives steam to the groups posing potential safety risks.

But Coun. Kourtney Penner said that security isn’t a perk, nor a benefit.

“It is a by-product of the environment that we are living in,” she said.

“I think we owe it to each other to say you matter to me, you matter to the city, and therefore I will support what is needed to keep you safe.”

Coun. Richard Pootmans said they also need to take into account family members of councillors.

“If I’m going to have the luxury of being a publicly-elected official, I don’t want my family worried about my safety or frankly, worried for themselves,” he said.

In his close, Coun. Courtney Walcott said that it’s the duty of council to respond to a changing environment for elected officials.

“This is not asking for special treatment,” Walcott said.

“It’s asking for recognition that the threats faced by elected officials is higher and ever increasing.”

About Darren Krause 1189 Articles
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4 Comments

  1. I’m fed up with this City and council raise more taxes so the public pays for your own perks. No you signed up for the job just do it or get out. I don’t want my taxes in anyway paying for your private security especially when it going to cost 8000.00 for install and a100.00 per month when nothing comes out of your pockets. I worked for for the city 55 years and the waste and fullish speaking has to stop. Get off your asses and use the money for seniors or homeless how many of you are there 12 or 14 multiply by that that’s a lot of money. Wake up Calgary there scamming us again

  2. BULLSHIT – what’s with this city council. First, it’s wanting to butt noses into Quebec’s affairs – now this???? Common you guys – get on with what you were hired to do – Calgary Taxpayers’ Affairs – we who hired you – remember!!

  3. I don’t think personal safety is the responsibility of the tax paying public. I agree with Couns. Andre Chabot and Dan McLean, you knew when you decided to run for these positions that personal safety might be infringed on – if you didn’t, you did not research the job you were applying for very well. Councillors are paid very well for there positions. Don’t put the burden of your security systems on us the tax paying public.

  4. Silly Comments… Seriously, you guys are bitching about $100k? How many Coun. times 8k and not all are taking it… Protecting Elected official is necessary, IT IS ALREADY HARD to get good people elected…

    What should bother people… I the fact that’s it’s 8k per, that seems a bit much unless we’re talking Camera System and all

    Chabot and McLean? They can’t stop it, they’ll end up taking it, you just wait.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Threats to Calgary politicans, public figures real, say extremism experts - LiveWire Calgary
  2. No Calgary city councillors make claim for home security systems - LiveWire Calgary

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