A security guard patrols beneath the Olympic rings on the road near Vancouver International Airport. Private cops will cost the Games' organizers nearly $100 million.

Private security during the 2010 Olympics will cost almost $100 million.

A consortium made up of one American and two Canadian firms will provide the service during the Games, the RCMP-led Olympic security unit announced on Thursday.

The U.S. firm, Contemporary International, worked at the Beijing and other previous Olympics and is already doing some work with the 2010 organizing committee.

The other two companies are Alberta-based United Protection Security Group and Ontario-based Aeroguard.

"At least 80 per cent of the value of the contract has to be provided by individuals based in Canada," said Cpl. Jen Allan of the Olympics' Integrated Security Unit.

"This company is in compliance with that."

The full amount the three companies will be paid won't be worked out until after the Games, but won't exceed $97.42 million.

Important assignment

Stephen Mirabile, Contemporary International's president, said the consortium is proud to bring its extensive experience in security to this important assignment.

He said the project will provide economic opportunities for about 5,000 British Columbians.

"Our goal is to work together with our partners and with the community in Vancouver and Whistler and hire locals. Over the coming days, we will certainly make some announcements on how people can be part of the team," Mirabile said.

He stressed the three companies will work in partnership, though he conceded, "We will certainly take the lead in setting up the project plans and the administration of the project."

Mirabile said the consortium has no plans to poach workers from local security firms.

"We believe there's enough work for everybody who wants to be involved," he said.

Contemporary Services Corp., a sister company of Contemporary International, won the contract earlier this year to provide security for the Vancouver convention centre.

The overall security budget for the Games is $900 million, about half of which is being spent by the RCMP in their role as the co-ordinating agency. In addition to private security, about 7,000 police officers and 4,000 soldiers are also involved in Games security efforts.

Local companies didn't want the job

Local security agencies weren't surprised Thursday when told the contract had been awarded to companies located outside of B.C.

"The issue with the Olympics is such that none of the local companies wanted to do it," said Leo Knight of Paladin Security, a Vancouver-based firm.

"The number of  people they were looking for is slightly less than the number of security guards in the province today. We didn't think it would be reasonable for us to look at doing something like that for essentially 90 days worth of work."

A new licensing program in place for security guards allows them on the job with little prior training, and while that increases the potential pool of staff, it isn't necessarily a good thing for a high-profile event such as the Games, said Camil Dubuc, president of Vancouver's Genesis Security.

Also announced Thursday was the awarding of a $30-million contract to Honeywell Canada to provide electronic security equipment for the outside of venues during the Games.

ISU spokesman Const. Bert Paquet didn't specify exactly what kind of equipment that means, but the ISU had said earlier it would involve motion-detectors and cameras.

The use of security cameras during the Games has raised a lot of concerns among privacy activists and residents who fear it will create a legacy of eyes in the sky watching every move.

Security staff and politicians have stressed that any cameras put up for the Games will be temporary.