Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include information about the 2020 operating budget for the VPD
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver police say protests happening in the city nearly every weekend are draining the department’s budget, according to the city’s top cop.
Palmer said 2020 “was a very dramatic year,” with the cost of policing protests totaling around $2.5 million. The 2020 operating budget for the department was $314 million, meaning this particular item accounted for about 0.7 per cent of the department’s spending.
Palmer estimated the cost for 2021 could be as high as $3 million, an increase of $500,000.
“Vancouver is the epicentre for the entire province, so places like the Vancouver Art Gallery, Jack Poole Plaza, Vancouver Public Library — these places that we see incredible numbers of people showing up,” Chief Adam Palmer said Thursday.
Palmer said this past weekend saw 19 demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday.
“By far and large, the greatest number of protests we’re seeing are environmental, by far,” he explained, adding there have also been anti-mask and pandemic-related demonstrations.
“But we also know that those will wane as the world starts to open up a little bit and some of the provincial health orders are lifted. [There are] also a lot of political protests related to national and international issues in other places around the world,” Palmer said.
“Our emergency operational planning section manages hundreds of events every year. Many of these events are attracting large crowds and they’re blocking traffic, blocking critical infrastructure such as major intersections, bridges, rail lines, Port of Vancouver. So they do require a significant police presence.”
During Thursday’s afternoon’s monthly police board meeting, Palmer mentioned Metro Vancouver’s ongoing gang conflict is also draining resources.
He didn’t explain why saying that involves “sensitive issues” that cannot be discussed publicly.