A recent article on the CBC reports:
The City of Vancouver spent nearly $1 million dealing with the its Occupy protest this fall, and that figure could rise further, a senior city official says.
The lion’s share of the costs — $590,000 — went to the Vancouver Police Department, primarily for officers’ overtime, deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston said Monday.
Engineering services cost another $345,878, the Emergency Operations Centre $28,494 and Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services charged $16,730.
The total comes to $981,103, Johnston said, but that number could rise because the payroll overtime data is incomplete until the end of the month.
At face value, it seems that this is a colossal waste of money for Vancouver’s taxpayers. The blame is squarely placed on Occupy Vancouver for generating these costs via their protests. And yet, another look at the numbers reveal a different story, and raises questions about the city’s decision to over-police an overwhelmingly non-violent gathering.
Occupier Sarah Beuhler argues the initial police response was bloated and unnecessary, resulting in zero arrests in the first month and only a small handful overall.
She characterized the ongoing police presence as an unnecessary precaution taken by city officials anxious about appearing ill-prepared for catastrophe in the wake of the Stanley Cup riot.
“I sympathize that they were in a difficult position; they took a lot of flack for the riot… but they massively over-policed the thing,” Beuhler said.
The first reported arrest was on Nov. 15 when a man was blocking traffic in the busy intersection of Georgia and Howe streets. Around seven other people have been arrested for breach of peace.
According to a memo sent out Monday by city manager Penny Ballem, Vancouver spent a total of $590,000 in policing from the Oct. 15 launch of the protest to Dec. 15. It spent another $345,878 on engineering staff, $28,494 manning an Emergency Operations Centre and $16,730 on Vancouver fire department services.
“It’s hard to argue against fire trucks, but putting city workers there to walk around doing nothing basically seemed like a CYA (cover your ass) strategy. They were determined not to be caught with their pants down,” Beuhler said.
Protesters also say the hefty price the city paid to monitor the protest was offset by the number of services provided at the Occupy tent city.
Over the course of the 37-day encampment, Occupiers estimate $672,000 in health care was doled out by volunteer doctors, nurses and medics and 1,000 free meals were served daily.
They also boast providing shelter for about 30 homeless people per night. Based on an estimated cost of $83 per person per night to stay in a Vancouver emergency shelter, they value the service at more than $92,000.
Overall, protesters say they contributed more than $1 million in services to the community.
Read the full article on on CTV: “City mismanaged pricey Occupy response, protesters say”
Feature photo: Unlikely Ghost