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Nelson city manager authorized to ban people from city hall

Nelson city council has granted city manager Kevin Cormack the power to ban people from city hall under the Trespass Act following a few recent incidents.

According to a staff report placed before council on Tuesday, there have been a “small number of isolated incidents” of harassment at city hall lately.

“Our city manager had to make a quick decision,” corporate officer Sarah Winton told council Tuesday. “It was chaotic and it was quite frightening for many of the staff. The police were here.”

The incident involved someone upset about vaccine mandates, who has since been banned from city hall.

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According to the staff report, local governments have the authority to ban members of the public from entering municipal offices and the Trespass Act can be used to enforce that decision. The city’s lawyers suggested council should authorize a staff member to do so.

Council agreed they had a duty to protect staff and their discussion was less about the merits of banning members of the public than the mechanics involved. They debated whether the motion should grant the same powers to others in the city manager’s absence, but were told an existing chain of command would automatically apply.

They also discussion at length whether the mayor ought to be named in the resolution, but ultimately the motion passed without that amendment.

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