Convoy protest cost Ottawa $36.3 million, city memo says

Convoy protest cost Ottawa $36.3 million, city memo says
A cyclist rides towards a police barricade where trucks are lined up near Parliament hill on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Local leaders in Ottawa are being told that the city’s response to the three-week convoy protest last month cost municipal coffers over $36 million.

A memo to councillors released by the city says almost all of the $36.3-million bill is linked to policing the protest that clogged city streets by Parliament Hill in the downtown core.

The memo from city staff says policing costs total $35 million, including the help of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Excluding the Mounties, the policing bill falls to $27.7 million for wages, accommodations for out-of-town help, supplies and to cover costs for food and what the memo calls “vehicle expenses.”

City staff say they plan to formally ask the provincial and federal governments to cover all costs linked to the local response to the so-called freedom convoy.

But the final tally may yet grow.

The city’s non-police response cost $1.3 million, but the memo notes that amount doesn’t include the yet-to-be-determined cost to repair damaged infrastructure.

The convoy of big rigs and other vehicles rolled into Ottawa at the end of January to protest public health restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

Police had originally thought the protesters would stay for the weekend and then move on, but it quickly became apparent that those involved had no plans to leave that swiftly.

Local, provincial and federal leaders labelled it an illegal occupation of the national capital, but it took weeks before police moved in to clear streets.

The situation roiled local residents, businesses and politicians. The police chief resigned and every police services board member eventually resigned their seats except for chair Coun. Diane Deans, who was removed by council.

The total costs in the memo don’t include losses to downtown businesses, which are estimated to be in the millions. It also doesn’t include almost $30,000 in relief payments to social service providers whose operations were similarly impacted.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2022.


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