Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley has a $1.2 million bill he doesn’t want to pay.
The city owes the Burnaby RCMP for its policing of anti-pipeline protests. The $1.2 million total includes costs for policing mass protests in 2014, when Trans Mountain crews began survey work on Burnaby Mountain, through to March 31, 2018, according to Burnaby RCMP Cpl. Daniela Panesar. She said figures are not available for the remainder of 2018, which saw near daily protests and blockades at the Westridge Marine terminal.
Former Mayor Derek Corrigan refused to pay the bill, saying it should either fall to the former owner, Kinder Morgan, or the federal government because it approved the project.
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale, denied the request and the costs went unpaid.
But the city’s new mayor is determined to take up the fight. Hurley said the federal government should foot the bill. He pointed to its “national interest” argument for the expansion project.
“Our position is, if it's in the national interest, then any extra policing should be paid for within the national interest instead of coming out of the Burnaby coffers,” Hurley said.
The mayor said he’s confident he can change Goodale’s mind. The two intend to discuss the topic over the phone soon, both parties have confirmed.
Hurley said he’s keen to take up the battle, despite his predecessor's loss.
“That doesn't mean that I can't keep trying,” he said. “Different relationships can yield different results ... Also, of course, there's a federal election (this year), so that can always make a difference too.”
Public Safety Canada spokesperson Zarah Malik said Burnaby is on the hook to pay 90 per cent of “costs associated with maintaining law and order in the City of Burnaby resulting from incidents, including demonstrations.” The Municipal Policing Service Agreement only requires the federal government to pay the remaining 10 per cent, Malik said.
The protest policing costs “remain an ongoing dispute,” she said.