The mayor of Burnaby says the police response to protests against work on a controversial pipeline cost the local RCMP detachment nearly $1-million, leaving the city with some tough financial choices about covering the shortfall.
Derek Corrigan says city staff have told him policing costs exceeded $100,000 a day as the RCMP's Burnaby detachment sought to enforce an injunction to allow the work without interference from protesters.
"If policing costs are not covered, our RCMP detachment will likely be in a deficit position, without any formal request for additional funds from either the detachment commander or the Deputy Commissioner," Mr. Corrigan said in an e-mail exchange with The Globe and Mail.
"If that request comes forward, council will have to consider drawing on reserves to balance the budget."
Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. was drilling a pair of holes on the mountain to gather data for a proposed $5.4-billion twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which moves diluted bitumen and other products from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby for shipment to Asia. The National Energy Board has not yet approved the project.
The RCMP's Burnaby detachment says it enforced the injunction to protect the exploratory work from Nov. 20 to 29.
Mr. Corrigan, a staunch critic of the pipeline project, has called on Kinder Morgan to cover policing costs, because they were incurred for the energy giant's project.
In response, Kinder Morgan has said it would need a bill with specific costs from the city before it could respond to the demand.
The prospect of expanding the pipeline drew scores of protesters to Burnaby Mountain, leading to about 100 arrests on civil contempt charges. A B.C. Supreme Court judge threw out the civil charges after the company admitted to providing incorrect GPS co-ordinates as part of its injunction application.
Staff Sergeant John Buis of the Burnaby RCMP detachment says he cannot provide estimated policing costs or disclose the number of officers involved in the operation because the RCMP may have to use the same approach again to deal with future protests.
However, he said in an interview on Thursday that it was a challenging and "unusual" operation. "It was so short, so sharp and so intense. A 10-day period of time is not very much. We had to ramp up operations specifically for a certain period of time and keep them ramped up until the situation was over," he said.
"It was very personnel driven because of the numbers of people that were present and the potential for more [protesters] to attend."
He said the city is responsible for policing costs but cities have gone to the province for help as a result of "extraordinary issues."
Mr. Corrigan wrote that he had no problem with the RCMP's handling of the matter. Operations on were left entirely to the judgment of the commanding officer, he wrote in the exchange with The Globe. He said he was pleased that the local commander – Chief Superintendent Dave Critchley – was in charge. "I have great trust in his judgment and his careful use of resources."