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2010 Olympic hotel bill puts RCMP in budget bind


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Friend of mine in Van forwarded this to me....


2010 Olympic hotel bill puts RCMP in budget bind


From Monday's Globe and Mail

March 23, 2008 at 10:15 PM EDT

OTTAWA — The police force charged with protecting the 2010 Winter Olympics has been running into budget trouble as it encounters an uncertain but soaring hotel bill for stationing thousands of RCMP officers in British Columbia.

But the RCMP is pressing ahead with plans to stage what it calls the biggest security simulation exercises in the country's history, including responding to a mock earthquake, according to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail.

In an RCMP Olympics security update dated Feb. 15, 2007, the force lists accommodation pricing in British Columbia as a key issue.

“Indications that prices are higher than originally projected,†the update states. “Currently exploring contingencies/alternatives.â€

The RCMP contracted American Express to conduct a market assessment on what it would cost to house the force's employees. In a later security update dated May 4, 2007, the market research shows extremely broad cost estimates.

For about 61,000 room nights along the so-called Sea to Sky corridor, American Express estimated a cost of anywhere from $10.5-million to $21.2-million. For about 128,000 room nights in Greater Vancouver, the cost was estimated at between $14.5-million and $19.8-million.

The rising accommodation costs pose one more challenge for the RCMP as the force prepares for one of the largest security operations in Canadian history.

The RCMP was already making plans in 2006 to secure accommodations as early as possible, documents show. In an October, 2006, document prepared by the 2010 Integrated Security Unit – the RCMP-led team charged with providing security for the Winter Games – detailing preliminary cost estimates, the unit outlines a strategy for saving money on accommodations.

“Reservations for rooms to accommodate a Medium Threat Level will be acquired with a negotiated strategy to return hotel rooms, if a Low Threat Level is identified prior to the Olympic period,†the document states.

The force earmarked about $390,000 for an agent to represent the RCMP in negotiations with hotel suppliers.

One of the few security issues to prove problematic for the RCMP has been the price tag. The initial cost estimate for security at the games was pegged at $175-million, to be shared evenly by British Columbia and Ottawa. However, documents leaked to the media last year showed the force doesn't believe that is nearly enough. The final cost is now expected to be much higher, possibly reaching $500-million. In preparation, Canadian security agencies will also be conducting large-scale training exercises.

According to documents prepared by Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, Public Safety requested between $18.9-million and $22.8-million for national emergency management exercises.

The exercises range from counterterrorism to cybersecurity to critical infrastructure protection. The training runs have also included cross-border exercises involving U.S. and Mexican officials. According to Public Safety documents, the training is a lead-up to a full-scale, cross-border exercise scheduled for 2009.

[color:red]A draft schedule of training exercises dating back to 2005 shows the variety of events for which security officials are planning. In May of this year, an exercise named “Ardent Sentry 08†is [color:red]scheduled to simulate an earthquake scenario in British Columbia. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is also expected to participate in the training run. In the next two years, two additional mass-transit exercises are planned for Vancouver.

One of the documents outlining the scope of the exercises shows the extent of their importance in the months leading up to the Olympic Games.

“The extremely high profile of the event and its related exercises demand an immediate start to what will be the most complex and comprehensive preparedness exercise ever undertaken by the Government of Canada,†the document states.

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