Occupation has cost Ottawa at least $36.3M: city manager 

The three-week occupation of downtown Ottawa has left the city holding an extraordinarily large bill — for now, at least.

Bulk of costs went toward police response, city will seek reimbursement

Police near Parliament Hill on Feb. 19, 2022. According to Ottawa's city manager, $35 million was spent by the municipality on the police response to the protests that paralyzed much of the downtown area. The city says it will seek reimbursement, however. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The three-week occupation of downtown Ottawa has left the city holding an extraordinarily large bill. 

So far, city officials estimate the demonstrations that started Jan. 28 have cost Ottawa $36.3 million, with the final total still being calculated. 

In a memo to council Friday, city manager Steve Kanellakos outlined where most of that multi-million-dollar price tag went. 

The majority, $35 million, was spent on the police response — including compensation, vehicle expenses, food, accommodation and operational supplies, Kanellakos said. The number drops to $27.7 million when excluding funds spent on RCMP. 

It wasn't just policing needs that the city spent money on, however, with $1.3 million going toward its own response to the occupation. 

That figure doesn't include any infrastructure damage or repair estimates, Kanellakos said, although a review of those costs is underway. 

Will seek reimbursement

Both the city and Ottawa police are in touch with the federal and provincial governments and will ask for most of those costs to be reimbursed, he noted.

The memo also detailed supports for people working and living in the downtown core, including services targeting mental health and well-being and a proposed tax deferral for businesses affected by the occupation.

Four downtown business improvement areas and one business association will receive up to $50,000 each for certain approved projects, while seven other central BIAs will receive up to $25,000.

The Ottawa Markets Corporation will receive up to $25,000 for economic recovery initiatives, and the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition will receive $50,000 to offer more outdoor concerts over the summer.

The federal and provincial governments have also announced funding for Ottawa businesses and tourism.

Steve Kanellakos, seen here in 2019, says the city will seek reimbursement for the costs of the occupation from their provincial and federal counterparts. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Free transit continues to be offered on the LRT line, a number of OC Transpo routes, and Para Transpo trips to and from certain downtown wards until March 26.

Parking also remains free in city lots, including at Ottawa City Hall, until March 31.

Council has also passed a motion, Kanellakos noted, to develop an awareness campaign about the harmful effects of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

United Way East Ontario has also reached out to Ottawans with a relief fund created for those affected by the demonstration. Nearly $30,000 has been provided to four organizations to, among other things, finance healing evenings for members of the LGBT community, Kanellakos said.

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