Alexa Emerson should pay, literally, for over $200K in threat response costs: councillor

"I don't know what Alexa Emerson's financial situation is but I think it certainly is a responsibility of council and the [city]," says councillor Darren Hill.

Darren Hill says the city owes it to the taxpayers of Saskatoon

A Saskatoon city councillor says Alexa Emerson, pictured, should be held financially liable for the cost of the city police and firefighter response to the white powder scares and bomb threats Emerson is expected to plead guilty to next week. (Saskatoon Police Service)

A Saskatoon city councillor says the city should at least try to recoup more than $200,000 in costs from Alexa Emerson, the woman expected to plead guilty next week to a number of white powder scares and bomb threats that tied up city resources in 2016 and 2017.

"I don't know what Alexa Emerson's financial situation is but I think it certainly is a responsibility of council and the administration to seek the restitution," said Coun. Darren Hill.

"It's a tremendous amount of resources that were expended as a result of her actions and resources that have been paid for by the taxpayers of Saskatoon."

The Crown prosecutor on Emerson's case has told CBC News Emerson is expected to plead guilty Wednesday in Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench to a series of scares and threats directed at businesses, schools and a hospital in November 2016 and the spring of 2017.

That lawyer, Jennifer Claxton-Viczko, has called Emerson "relentless" and said her alleged offences cost city police and firefighters well over $200,000 in resources.

While the substances recovered proved harmless — baking soda, in some cases — Wayne Rodger of the Saskatoon Fire Department told reporters after one incident that his crews must initially treat every report as "a worst-case-scenario." 

'It's mind-boggling'

Hill, who sits on the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners, asked a city solicitor more than a year ago to look at seeking restitution in any white powder case that results in a conviction.

He still believes the city should press for restitution.

"For one individual to be responsible for that significant number of incidents, I think it's mind-boggling," Hill said. 

Among the incidents Emerson has been charged in connection with is a string of suspicious packages sent to several buildings, including the Saskatoon Cancer Centre, in March 2017.  

Emerson was out on bail at that time, following previous charges tied to the first wave of white powder scares in November 2016.

"She had been presented a number of times with the charges, as well as the situations that were the result of her actions or potentially the result of her actions, and continued to move forward with additional incidents," said Hill.

CBC News has reached out to the City of Saskatoon for comment. 

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Guy Quenneville

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