With the recent conclusion of the trial of the person responsible for the deadly North York truck rampage that killed 10 and injured 16; there is enhanced focus on protecting public spaces from vehicle attacks. The Hamilton Public Works Committee has approved a $700,000 recommendation from staff to vehicle-proof the City Hall forecourt. What is recommended is the installation of metal bollards, some permanent, others removable, at all the points around city hall where a vehicle could intrude.
The staff report laid out the problem of trying to protect the public while not making the City Hall into a fortress. “We now live in an era where the safety of the public is a requirement in crowded public spaces. The circumstances and situations are always changing as, notably, terror groups are increasingly targeting crowded places that cannot be altered without radically changing how we address and experience our Cities’ public spaces. In 2016 vehicle attacks, in public spaces, accounted for the largest number of terrorism casualties in the West resulting in 601 deaths. The primary terrorist threat continues to be individuals and groups inspired by violent ideologies. There is the need to balance safety and security with the intended openness and accessibility of this public realm.”
Concrete planters ineffective
After an incident in 2019 where a school bus came onto the plaza during a clash between two rival public demonstrations, the city placed concrete planters in front to city hall to deter vehicles, but a consultant report said the concrete planters might give a sense of safety but would actually be ineffective in stopping a vehicle, writing: “The planters as they currently stand would act very poorly as crash attenuators. For a sedan moving at 80Km/hr (which is the most likely impact scenario) as stopping distance of approximately 43 ft (13 m) is extremely unsafe. In addition, the further sliding distance, the more likely it becomes for the planter to fall apart and produce debris or be pushed out of the way of a vehicle before bringing it to a complete stop.”
A number of options were explored., and in the end security bollards were chosen for the
• Least visually intrusive
• Suitable for architectural style of building
• Able to perform security requirements
• Least amount of impact on pedestrian circulation
The Public Works Committee will vote on the proposal next week.