It’s been one year since the mass anti-pipeline arrests on Burnaby Mountain, and there’s still no clear cost for the overall policing operation, but Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan says the city was not stuck with the entire bill.
The NOW filed an access to information request for documents showing the total cost of the Burnaby Mountain police presence and received what appears to be a partial report for local expenses only, but no one in the RCMP will comment on the data.
The issue of who would pay was a contentious one, with Corrigan expressing concerns the city would be on the hook. But Corrigan said the city only paid for Burnaby’s officers.
“We paid for our RCMP and what our RCMP did,” he said. “We certainly haven’t put ourselves in the position of having to accept responsibility for those (other) costs, and there hasn’t been an approach made directly to council at this point in regard to that.”
Kinder Morgan has not made any payments for the policing costs, according to Corrigan.
“Kinder Morgan talks a big game, but when it comes time to pay the piper, Kinder Morgan is going to do everything they can to avoid it. After all, their main purpose is to make money, so they don’t give it away,” Corrigan said.
According to Kinder Morgan spokesperson Ali Hounsell, the company was never approached or asked directly to pay for policing costs.
Last March, Staff Sgt. Major John Buis said the RCMP would not release the final costs of the operation and suggested the NOW file an access to information request. Under the Access to Information Act, the RCMP’s Ottawa office has 30 days to respond to a request, but in this case, staff took six months provide the documents. Some of the pages are titled “Kinder Morgan expense summary” and include expenses for staff, police officers, equipment and snacks over a period of several days in late November. The report, which was released in paper format only and in barely legible tiny font, contains 28 pages that appear to outline a running total of expenses, but it’s impossible to be sure without RCMP confirmation. The RCMP’s Ottawa office refused to offer any explanation about the documents, instead referring the NOW to the local Burnaby detachment, and no one at the local detachment is talking.
The total for what appears to be RCMP office staff (which includes people handling communications, records and the switchboard, for example) is $20,591 over several days. Meals, coffee, snacks, water and other “expenses” totalled more than $10,000. (See sidebar below for detailed items.)
The running total for police, staff and all expenses appears to peak $510,675.82, but again, it’s difficult to say as police aren’t willing to talk. Estimates at the time were running around $1 million for the full cost.
Last November, Buis told the NOW police officers cost roughly $100 per hour, although he wouldn’t say how many were on the mountain. Police units present included the Lower Mainland Integrated Tactical Troupe, aboriginal policing from E-division, the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, a team of negotiators and the Integrated Forensic Identification Team. Police kept a 24-hour presence on the mountain in the conservation area.
Last fall, police were on Burnaby Mountain to enforce a court-ordered injunction against protesters opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The order forbade people from interfering while the company conducted survey work for a new pipeline route. The standoff was roughly 10 days long, although police were on the mountain before the injunction kicked in on Nov. 17. More than 100 people were arrested, but all charges were dropped because Kinder Morgan had the wrong GPS coordinates for the no-go zone.
Here are some of the costs associated with policing the protests:
Cleaning of prisoner van: $378.70
Training vehicle repairs: $9,954.53
Electrical cords: $189
Hand sanitizer: $75.92
Toilets from RCMP supplies and services: $1711.50
Toilets from City of Burnaby supplies and services: $634
RCMP member “expenses” (no explanation/details) $5,658.50
RCMP meals: $2,843.94
Disposable handcuffs: $470
ATCO (mobile) trailer: $1,168
- From RCMP