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Anti-COVID rallies put $531,000 on Vancouver policing tab

Protesters have rallied against the lockdown, masks and vaccines.
maskrally
Several hundred anti-maskers marched the streets and gathered at Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Sept 13, 2020.

Anti-COVID restriction rallies have cost Vancouver taxpayers more than half a million dollars in policing costs between June 2020 and April this year, police figures show.

Vancouver Police Department (VPD) information said the events have been protests against the lockdown, masks and vaccines.

The figure is one-sixth of the $3 million the VPD expected to spend managing city protests and demonstrations in 2021.

The No New Normal BC Protest events took place several times since the pandemic began and have racked up policing costs of $371,613.

The group’s Facebook page said No New Normal is “a committed group of British Columbians who are extremely concerned about the negative and long lasting effects of the government's draconian and highly illegal lockdown being imposed upon the citizens of our province.”

The cost of securing the BC Freedom Mega Rally on Oct. 17-18 was $89,967, and the March for Freedom Vancouver Art Gallery events from November to April cost $69,389 to secure.

The rally was billed as an event with speakers from across Canada, the U.S., and Britain at the Vancouver Art Gallery “to unite, and protest the infringement of human rights and freedoms” from tyrannical restrictions and mandates.

Chief Adam Palmer told the Vancouver Police Board June 24 that police spent “about $2.5 million” in 2020 on deploying officers to protests — a year he described as dramatic in terms of the increase in costs associated to managing what have been largely street-based gatherings.

Palmer said COVID-19-related protests, including those led by anti-maskers, are also significant. However, he expected those protests to wane once the pandemic subsides and provincial health orders are lifted.

Vancouver police budget statistics supplied to Glacier Media show a steady increase in recent years on money spent to manage protests and demonstrations, with $478,460 in 2018, $1,033,297 in 2019 and $2,835,584 last year.

With files from Mike Howell

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

twitter.com/jhainswo