2010 Olympic security costs could hit $1B, says minister
The cost of security for the 2010 Winter Games could reach as high as $1 billion but B.C. will not be on the hook for the runaway costs, according to the provincial finance minister.
B.C. is protected from cost overruns because the province is only paying for security inside Games venues, Colin Hansen told CBC News on Friday morning.
Federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day acknowledged the security budget for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler will actually be several times more than the original estimate of $175 million contained in the 2002 budget.
The actual cost will be between $400 million and $1 billion, Day said in an interview with a Vancouver newspaper published on Friday. A more accurate estimate will be released in November, he said.
The federal government is responsible for aviation and border security, and for RCMP services, and some of those security concerns, which were not included in the original plan, are behind the rising costs, according to Hansen.
"When you start looking at the other security issues that have to be planned for — such as border security, security at the Vancouver International Airport, any potential terrorism threat that may have to be managed, and also security for VIP's that come in from around the world — those have never been part of the $175 million budget," said Hansen.
Public kept in the dark
Until now, Hansen has maintained $175 million would be enough to cover the cost of Olympic security.
"We have not had any indication so far in the planning process that $175 million will not be adequate," he said in July 2006.
Provincial New Democrat MLA and Olympic critic Harry Bains says it's appalling and shameful that people were kept in the dark for so long and Hansen should apologize to the people of British Columbia for misleading them about the cost of Olympic security.
Bains has been warning for years that the $175 million budget for security was far too low, and said no one should believe the B.C. government's share of security costs will not increase.
RCMP internal planning documents obtained by the CBC in July 2007 showed that security plans for the 2010 Winter Olympics had been downgraded to reflect a lower level of threat in order to stay within budget.
At that time the RCMP also admitted the force would be unable to provide even the reduced level of security within the $175-million budget allocated.