British Columbia

2010 Olympic security plans include 'free speech areas'

Olympic security officials have rolled out plans to create so-called free speech areas during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, similar to the protest zones used in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Some homeless to be moved out of security zones

Olympic security officials have rolled out plans to create so-called free speech areas during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, similar to the protest zones used in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

The head of security for the 2010 Games, RCMP assistant commissioner Bud Mercer, told Vancouver city council on Tuesday, however, that protesters will not be required to limit their activities to the areas.

"You're free to use them, if you like, but anywhere you participate in lawful protest is legal and lawful in Canada. It doesn't have to be in a free speech area," said Mercer.

David Eby of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says officials are being too vague.

"There is some basic information we are looking for from them, things like: how many protest zones will there be, how big will the perimeters be, how will neighbourhoods be affected," said Eby.

The Integrated Security Unit will also monitor potential threats, using more than 900 closed-circuit cameras, which Mercer promised would be removed when the Olympics are over. 

Vancouver police will also monitor the movements of the city's homeless, some of whom will have to be moved in the interest of safety, said deputy chief Steve Sweeney.

"We currently have a few homeless that are residing within very close proximity to some of the venues. And those people, we will assist them in relocating elsewhere," said Sweeney.

J.P. Allaird, who currently stays in a hostel but is worried he could be on the street during the Olympics, is also concerned about plans to relocate homeless people.

"That's pretty sad not knowing where we are going to go. I think they are trying to hide poverty from people," said Allaird.

About 4,500 Canadian soldiers will also be on the ground as part of the enhanced security presence during the Games.