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Staffing protests cost Vancouver police more than $2.5M in 2020, chief says

Protesters blockade CN Rail tracks in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver police say the increasing number of protests in the city are driving policing costs up by millions of dollars.

At Thursday’s Vancouver Police Board meeting, Chief Adam Palmer said the city is seeing more than a dozen protests every weekend in Vancouver.

Read more: Old-growth logging opponents blockade major Vancouver intersection

Last weekend there were 19, four of which were taking place simultaneously, he said.

“Vancouver is the epicenter for the entire province,” he said.

“Any time there’s an issue whether it’s locally, nationally or internationally, places like the Vancouver Art Gallery, Jack Poole Plaza, the Vancouver Public Library, city hall, these are places that we see incredible numbers of people showing up.”

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Palmer said policing protests cost the department $2.5 million in 2020, a figure he estimated would climb this year.

“We will spend well we estimate in excess of $3 million in 2021 managing protests by far and wide the protests are environmental, like by far,” Palmer said.

Read more: Anti-pipeline protesters block traffic in major East Vancouver intersections

“Whether its logging, old growth forests, TMX, pipelines, those sorts of protests way more than anything else.”

Palmer said the number of anti-COVID-19 restriction protests was also significant, but that they were expected to wane as restrictions are loosened.

He said police remained committed to maintaining the balance between the right to protest, safety, and the rights of the public to travel and use critical infrastructure.

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