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Gregor Robertson's riot, part one

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Last Friday, the City of Vancouver released the first batch of documents requested about the city's preparations for the Stanley Cup playoffs and the ensuing June 15 Stanley Cup riot after the final game. These documents were released in response to Freedom of Information requests that various persons, including me, submitted after June 15. This first release (one more will follow in late September) can be found at: City of Vancouver FOI page or the Information Releases section of the City Notices and Publications page.

Keeping to the now cliche government standard for the release of bad news, the first dump of documents was on a Friday afternoon when most of the mainstream media have gone off for the weekend.

Here is what we know from the documents obtained so far:

On April 19, 2011, the Vancouver Police Department's Chief Constable, Jim Chu, gave his report to city council on policing for the Stanley Cup run. Chu, who may not know what an anarchist is or isn't, at least did his job that day. Chu noted that he did not have funds in his budget for the event. His conservative estimate of $1,296,549 for policing was based on, "...expected minimum cost of the deployment. The costs may rise based on fan reaction; however this cost may be reduced should one or more of the series end in fewer than seven games." Chu had the number of games right, but it is now pretty clear that he and the city planners flubbed the fan reaction part of the equation. That part alone could have sent the estimate considerably higher.

At a meeting attended by City Manager Penny Ballem, Chief Chu, and other city staff of the "Corporate Management Team" on May 27, the need to go to city council for money from the contingency fund was noted.

What we don't know is this: Did the money materialize? If not, why not? Was Chu forced to make do with whatever funds he could scrape together, thus leading to a vastly under-policed Stanley Cup final?

One rumour circulating at City Hall is that the contingency fund had been significantly depleted by the costs of the bike lanes and hence not enough was left for the VPD. This may not be correct, of course, but if there is anything to it, it could spell big trouble for Vision Vancouver in the November election.

We'll have to wait and see what the next batch of documents reveal, but given how generally secretive the city staff and politicians are being about it all, it's hard not to suspect that they are hiding something and that the worst, for them, is yet to come.

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