British Columbia

Olympic surveillance cameras causing concern

Security personnel are installing hundreds of closed circuit surveillance cameras around downtown Vancouver in preparation for the Olympics, but questions remain about whether many of the cameras will be removed after the Games.

Security personnel are installing hundreds of closed circuit surveillance cameras around downtown Vancouver in preparation for the Olympics, but questions remain about whether or not many of the cameras will be removed after the Games.

By the time the installations are completed over the next 10 days, an estimated 900 RCMP cameras will be eyeing the crowds around Olympic venues like BC Place Stadium and GM Place. They will be watching for possible criminal activity and medical emergencies.

Another 90 cameras are being set up by the city of Vancouver at the two LiveCity party sites at West Georgia and Cambie Streets and David Lam Park, and along the makeshift pedestrian malls on West Georgia, Granville and Robson Streets.

The cameras are scheduled to be turned on Feb. 1.

The RCMP said its cameras are rented and will be removed after the Games. But the city's plan for its monitoring equipment has not been finalized.

City's cameras could remain

The city has said it plans to deactivate the cameras after the Paralympic Games end March 28, but whether or not they will be removed is not clear.

"We need to approach it very cautiously," Mayor Gregor Robertson told CBC News.

"There's a reason to [use them] for the Games specifically but after that there needs to be a lot more dialogue. People have to understand what the pros and cons are before we move forward on that."

Groups like the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Surveillance Studies Centre said the social and democratic impact of mass surveillance must be considered.

People might be more reluctant to protest if they are being watched and if there is less interaction between protesters and the security forces that protect them, according to Simon Fraser University student Carmen Hung, a member of the Surveillance Studies Centre. 

"Why, instead of hiring maybe more security personnel walking around the street … [do] they have cameras?" asked Hung.