The staff at the West Hants Municipal Office should feel a little bit safer this year after council approved some safety upgrades.
At the Dec. 13 council meeting, West Hants councillors approved about $40,000 to be spent on front office modifications.
When the item came before the Dec. 6 committee of the whole, Coun. Randy Matheson asked why the upgrades were necessary.
“I assume there have been some security issues at the front desk,” he said.
Jerry Wood, the municipality's finance director, confirmed that there were at least three incidents in 2011.
“The last experience was very close to having a staff member accosted,” Wood said, noting that they simply want to establish a physical barrier between staff and the general public.
“What happens is we're so open, it doesn't take much for them to get in or to get close to the staff person,” he noted.
“The last experience was very close to having a staff member accosted.” - Jerry Wood
The office modifications will fix that. Among the changes are plans to install fibreglass at the counter that will rise to the ceiling, establish a barrier to run from the end of the counter to the wall, and add a privacy room for customers.
Once he learned why the changes were being made and what they were, Matheson said he was supportive.
“Well, I certainly support safety for the staff. I think it's unfortunate that it's come to this in our society but I think you have to take these steps, unfortunately,” Matheson said.
The funding of the $40,000 will be split between Special Reserves — Capital Grant (for renovations) and Special Reserves — Equipment (for furniture/fixtures.)