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.
Johnston said it was a challenging protest to deal with in both monetary terms and in other respects.
“We had just come off [the Stanley Cup] riot, so nerves were pretty raw, especially in workers downtown,” he said. “We incurred the majority of the costs in the first weekend and week when we didn’t know what to expect.”
Johnston did not downplay the expense of dealing with the protest, but suggested the money was well spent, considering the outcome.
“The city can be proud of the peaceful resolution to the protest in Vancouver, which is in contrast to the violence and conflict that occurred in many cities around the world,” Johnston said.
Costs higher elsewhere
Johnston noted that Vancouver's expenses aren't out of line with other North American cities.
To mid-November, Portland, Ore., spent $1.4 million US on policing and park expenses, Oakland, Calif., put out $2.4 million, while the site of North America’s biggest Occupy protest, New York City, involved costs of $7 million in police overtime alone.
Occupy Vancouver began Oct. 15 as part of a worldwide protest that has had a wide range of participants and agendas, but generally targeted “the one per cent” of the population protesters say control most of the wealth in the world.
The protest’s encampment on the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery ended with a B.C. Supreme Court decision ordering the protesters to leave the property by Nov. 21.