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LETTER: Province needs to pony up for protest policing costs

City of Victoria taxpayers are unfairly picking up most of the bills for policing an increasing number of political protests at the Legislature grounds and precinct (five people arrested after liquid poured on police chief, Vic News, Sept. 18).

In 2017, VicPD managed 14 protests, but in 2020, they managed an unprecedented 66, according to VicPD sources. Protests at the Legislature have been a weekly, sometimes daily event again this year. The B.C. Legislature provides just $50,000 annually to help VicPD offset costs of policing the Legislature grounds and precinct.

It seems unfair that the lion’s share of policing frequent Legislature protests is paid for only by the Victoria municipal taxpayer.

When Chief Del Manak was assaulted Sept. 18 it was reported more than 20 officers responded to the incident. Earlier this year the residential schools backlash resulted in frequent demonstrations requiring additional VicPD presence.

At a time when police budgets and workload are under pressure, it’s not reasonable that Victoria taxpayers pick up most of the cost of policing for an anti-vax demonstration and a memorial for Chantal Moore.

Protests are becoming more frequent, well organized and well funded, on every imaginable social and political issue, and require more resources to manage properly. Protests often spill over to downtown Victoria itself and involve road or bridge blockades.

As a result of the lengthy Wet’suwet’en protests on the grounds of the Legislature last year, VicPD made a special request for compensation and was reimbursed $186,000 by the Legislature.

Isn’t it time the province strike an agreement with VicPD and the taxpayers of the City of Victoria to automatically reimburse all expenses for policing protests?

Stan Bartlett, past chair

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria