Security for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouvercould be compromised because the cost to police the event has been underestimated, according to RCMP documents obtained by CBC News.
The RCMP, which is co-ordinating the national effort to police the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, is acknowledging for the first time that it will cost more than the original budget of $175 million.
The admission comes after CBC News obtained internal RCMP documents that reveal the force has been struggling for years with that dollar figure.
One internal RCMP document from 2005 says financial gaps pose "risks to Games security operations."
The Olympic bid, it says, failed to consider true costs for items such as security checks for thousands of service people, computer software, metal detectors and labour.
The number of venues the RCMP is expected to protect jumped from 21 in the bid to more than 100 after Vancouver won.
"At first blush, numerous financial funding gaps and risks have been identified which will negatively impact security operations," one of the documents states.
A group from the Vancouver Police Department and a senior RCMP officer who is now retired made the initial calculation of how much Olympic security would cost, according to the RCMP.
The RCMP's security specialists only looked at the costs after Vancouver won the bid in 2003.
In the years that followed, despite the private concerns, the RCMP said publicly that they could work with a budget of $175 million.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Pierre LeMaitre now says they need more money.
"We feel there was a lot more that needed to be done and as of this date, it is going to be more than the [$175 million], as far as costs go," LeMaitre said.
'Security will not be compromised'
But LeMaitre insisted that "security will not be compromised" and that the omissions in the Olympic security budget will be fixed.
Colin Hansen, the provincial minister responsible for the Olympics, said he only learned the RCMP would be asking for more money two weeks ago.
"When we get the details and we go through that, we will be asking some hard questions," he said.
John Furlong, the CEO of the Vancouver Olympics organizing committee, insisted the Mounties have never told him they couldn't meet the budget.
"No, they haven't. What they have done is told us that they are doing their work, they're doing their process. They're continuing to do that," Furlong said.
"Althoughwe are integrated and we workwith themspecifically on stuff around our venues, and our team works with them every day, they're doing the business plan."
NDP MLA Harry Bains, the party's Olympic critic, said Thursday that he's not surprised the RCMP is now admitting the cost of providing security for the Games has risen.
Everyone except the Campbell government and VANOC seemed to know that, Bains said.
"I think they made up their minds to keep people in dark about Olympic costs," he said. "Once again, we find that they obviously knew all along that this fund was not sufficient and they continue to keep the public in the dark."