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The memo on the $1-million cost for Occupy Vancouver

December 20th, 2011 · 38 Comments

In case you haven’t seen it elsewhere. I have to say, what is with all these memos and staff change announcements being put out at such odd times?

From: Johnston, Sadhu
Sent: Monday, December 19, 2011 4:09 PM
To: Direct to Mayor and Council – DL
Cc: Corporate Management Team (COV) – DL; Coulson, Marg
Subject: Memo on Occupy Vancouver Costs

Greetings Mayor and Council:

Pasted below and attached to this email is an update that staff committed to Council regarding the cost estimates for managing the Occupy Vancouver protest.

This data is still an estimate as payroll overtime data is incomplete until the end of the quarter, however the data will provide information which allows Council to see the impact within a reasonable sense of certainty. This data does not include the extensive time spent by many exempt managers from across all departments and Boards and members of our Corporate Management Team who worked many days and nights to effectively manage this challenging situation. The City can be proud of the peaceful resolution to the protest in Vancouver, which is in contrast to the violence and conflict that occurred in many cities around the world. The clear direction from the Mayor and Council to staff to find creative ways to peacefully resolve this was very critical to our success.

The following are the incremental expenditures which were unanticipated in our budget process and which can be attributed to Occupy Vancouver as of December 15, 2011:

VPD             $590,000        largely overtime costs for additional deployment and facility cost

Note: $394,000  of these costs were incurred by October 20 2011

Engineering     $345,878        largely  overtime and materials
Note: $127,124 of these costs were incurred by Oct 31 2011
OEM             $  28,494       staffing of Emergency Operations Centre
Note: $15,274 of these costs were incurred by Oct 31 2011
VFRS            $  16,730       overtime, staffing costs, and facility costs
Note: $7,000 of these costs were incurred by Oct 31 2011
Total           $981,103        estimate to December 15, 2011

We reported to Council in early November 2011 after 2 weeks of activity that our costs to October 31 2011 (October 20 for the VPD) totalled $543,398. Two thirds of those costs related to VPD overtime, particularly related to the first weekend of the Occupy Protest when thousands of citizens rallied downtown and the encampment was first established at the VAG.

What is apparent from the roll up data to December 15 2011 is the significant value of the approach that the city took in placing the VFRS crews on the ground as the key interface group with the protestors at the VAG. This allowed us to significantly reduce the VPD presence where the costs are significant. This was an efficient use of resources and more importantly a strategic deployment of personnel who have huge credibility and appropriate skills in dealing with an issue of this nature. The mobility of our workforce in VFRS allowed us to integrate this assignment into their everyday (and night) work without a large incremental cost. It is in large part the relationships that these professionals and their engineering/facilities colleagues built with the Occupy protesters that we were able to end this peacefully.

During the occupation, the local business community were extremely supportive of our efforts to manage the occupation. As an example local hotels provided us with access to their business centre to enable access to computers and printers for some of the legal and regulatory work involved in the Occupy issue. They also provided intermittently through the situation access to a hotel room to allow us to monitor events and deploy staff when required. Both VPD and VFRS used these facilities intermittently for their 24/7 oversight of the situation.

Vancouver’s expenditures are in-line with other North American cities dealing with the Occupy Movement. While we don’t have data on all cities, we have data to mid-November from the following cities: Portland, Oregon – over $1.4 million in policing and park restoration; Oakland, California –  more than $2.4 million; New York Police –  over $7 million in police overtime alone; Seattle –  $625,000. We have asked Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton for their comprehensive cost data, but as of Friday December 16 2011 they were not yet available.

In summary, although the City had unanticipated costs related to this global movement, we were able to build on our experience gained through learning’s from the Stanley Cup riot and our extensive experience with encampments and resolve the protest without collateral damage to downtown and neighbourhoods involved. We hope this information is of help to Council and please do not hesitate to call either of us if you have any questions.

Penny Ballem
Sadhu Johnston

Cc:     Corporate Management Team
Marg Coulson, City Clerk
<<Occupy Van Cost Est to 2011-12-15.pdf>>

Sadhu A. Johnston, LEED AP
City of Vancouver
Deputy City Manager
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V5Y 1V4


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