Ontario's opposition leader estimates the ongoing aboriginal occupation at a construction site in Caledonia, Ont., has cost taxpayers at least $55 million.
Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory asked Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty in the Ontario legislature Tuesday to put a cost on the occupation in the town near Hamilton, but McGuinty did not provide a final tally.
Instead,the premiercommented about how proud he is of the way his government has handled the seven-month standoff that beganFeb. 28.
McGuintyconfirmed that the provincial government paid$15.8 million to Henco Industries when it bought the land to put it into trust until the dispute is resolved.
An additional $4 million went to builders who had begun construction on the land in question, raising the amount paid for the site to $20.9 million, McGuinty said.
Tory estimated that on top of the $20.9 million, there are about $35 million in other expenses including the costs of policing the area, hiring negotiators and damages to property.
"I think by the calculation we can do without the access to all the tens of thousands of public servants that you have that the number would be about $55 million," Tory said.
Hesaid policing costs likely run around $30 million, an estimate that does not include a new 72-officer detachment in Caledonia.
Aboriginal affairs David Ramsey announced Monday that a 30-metre buffer zone will be created around the site to ease tensions in the area. It will be policed by the Ontario Provincial Police.
The standoff has been marked by periodic violent clashes between residents in surrounding areas and the small group of native protesters occupying the construction site.
Tory added that the cost of hiring former federal cabinet minister Jane Stewart as the lead provincial negotiator was $330,000, without factoring in other staff.
He also claims the dispute has cost Hydro One millions in property damage.
Tory did not provide an itemized accounting of how he arrived at each amount.
Six Nations protesters claim the 40-acre housing development site is part of a tract of land granted to them more than 200 years agoand has beenwrongly taken from them.