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Province says secrecy over 2010 security costs not its fault

B.C.’s Olympics and finance minister says it’s not his government’s fault the 2010 Winter Olympics security budget was kept secret for so long.

“If there should’ve been better communication, it certainly could not come from us, we did not have full information until the summer of last year,” said Colin Hansen. “Even then there was a great reluctance to share details in terms of how costs were arrived at.”

24 hours reported Friday that Access to Information documents show the RCMP told B.C. and federal officials July 6, 2007 that $466.12 million was needed to secure the Games and mid-November 2007 was the target date for public disclosure of the new budget.

On Feb. 19, 2009, federal Public Safety Minister Peter van Loan finally announced $491.9 million for the RCMP Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit in the overall $900 million budget. The original budget was just $175 million.

Hansen called the July 6, 2007 numbers “planning assumptions” and said nobody was allowed to take documents from the meeting, including B.C. 2010 Winter Games Secretariat CEO Annette Antoniak. Hansen said Antoniak concluded the province was not responsible for the increased costs. She was replaced last January by Philip Steenkamp.

B.C. eventually agreed to pay off its original $87.5 million commitment and assume up to $165 million in federal infrastructure spending over three years. The federal government assumed sole responsibility for Games’ security.

A request to interview V2010 ISU chief Bud Mercer was not fulfilled.

Olympics security budget timeline:

Jan. 22, 2003: Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games Security Operations Financials Concept sets $175 million security budget.

July 6, 2007: RCMP Asst. Comm. Roger Brown and Pacific region financial chief Robert Jorssen present $466.12 million estimate to federal and B.C. security committee. Mid-November 2007 the target date for public disclosure.

July 16, 2007: Briefing note by Jorssen and Insp. Alain Duplantie advises new RCMP commissioner William Elliott on his first day in office that the budget has increased from $175 million to $466 million.

July 26, 2007: CBC reveals Sept. 9, 2005 RCMP “Financial Resource Gaps” report that says $175 million insufficient.

Aug. 14, 2007: CTV reports RCMP Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit chief Bob Harriman fired, but Aug. 17 RCMP news release says “he was not fired, nor did he quit... there is no connection (to V2010 budgeting), and the timing is purely coincidental.”

Oct. 24, 2007: Federal and provincial officials, RCMP and VANOC choose Bud Mercer to replace Harriman.

Nov. 6, 2007: Brown, Jorssen and Mercer present revised $490.3 million RCMP budget to security committee.

July 22, 2008: federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day admits to 24 hours: “It’s going to be more than 175 (million dollars).”

Oct. 9, 2008: Day tells Vancouver Sun during federal election campaign that Games security will cost more than $400 million and less than $1 billion.

Feb. 19, 2009: New Public Safety Minister Peter van Loan announces $491.9 million for RCMP in overall $900 million Olympic security budget.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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