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Barrie City Hall security guard seriously hurt in alleged assault

'Yes, we have had security issues. Yes, we need to invest in more security at city hall, says mayor; local resident charged after Nov. 17 incident
Barrie City Hall is shown in a file photo.

Security has been tightened at Barrie City Hall after a security guard was seriously injured and taken to hospital Nov. 17.

“If you walk into city hall and try to walk into the mayor’s office right now, you’re not going to be able to because we’ve had incidents,” said Mayor Alex Nuttall, who was not at the Collier Street building at the time of the recent incident.

“Yes, we have had security issues. Yes, we need to invest in more security at city hall,” he said.

The city budgeted almost $1.18 million for security services this year, $1.21 million last year and another $1.23 million for 2024.

“Unfortunately, we had an incident where a security guard was hospitalized,” Nuttall said.

On Friday, Nov. 17, at 9:50 a.m., city police received a call for a report of a trespasser at 70 Collier St.

Police said a male security guard had been assaulted, received serious injuries in the Rotunda area and was taken by paramedics to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH).

Michael Catania, 49, of Barrie, was arrested Nov. 27 and charged with assault causing bodily harm. Catania was released from custody with a Jan. 10, 2024 court date in Barrie. | Facebook photo

“The injuries appeared to be serious but non life-threatening,” said Peter Leon, communications co-ordinator with the Barrie Police Service. “Police were unsure why he was there, but he was probably made aware by security that he was not welcome on the premises.”

Leon could not confirm if the accused was known to police.

“But I will say that police knew who it was they were looking for, once the suspect was identified,” he said.

A 49-year-old city resident, Michael Catania, was arrested Nov. 27, charged with assault causing bodily harm and released from custody with a Jan. 10, 2024 court date in Barrie. None of the allegations have been tested in court. 

“By the time we arrived (at Barrie City Hall on Nov. 17), the individual had already fled the location, but we were able to, through the assistance of video surveillance, identify who it is we were looking for,” Leon said.

Asked if there have been other similar incidents at Barrie City Hall, Leon said they’re not uncommon.

“I would expect there probably are people who have been told they’re not welcome at city hall, for whatever reason,” he said. “It is fairly common in today’s world for people to trespass and be told they can’t return, and if they do return they can be charged under the Trespass to Property Act.”

The security issue was also raised as councillors discussed Barrie City Hall renovations, as part of the 2024 budget talks, during the Nov. 29 general committee meeting.

“One of the issues you have to address is some security issues that have arisen,” Coun. Gary Harvey said to city staff. “I know when I first became a councillor, I was quite surprised at how open this building (Barrie City Hall) is, so I’m not surprised that these security issues have now come to the forefront.”

Harvey declined further comment Friday.

Coun. Amy Courser also mentioned “the security issue that is top of mind right now" at the Nov. 29 meeting. 

On Friday, she noted Barrie City Hall is an open public space and also a workplace.

“As a councillor, I’m committed to ensuring our staff are always safe,” she said. “At times, there have also been some issues related to theft and damage to the building and property that can add up to financial losses. Some interactions have the potential to escalate, and I want to ensure the safety and security of our employees.”

Barrie’s security services are not limited to city hall, and there are multiple funding sources for security services provided across the city.

Included in the guard’s duties are maintaining a visible security presence at the site they are assigned, at all times conducting continuous foot patrols inside and outside the facility, scheduled at staggered intervals every 30 minutes.