Occupation cost Ottawa at least $36.3 million, city manager says

Occupying downtown Ottawa for three weeks left the city with an extraordinarily high bill.

So far, city officials estimate the protests that began Jan. 28 have cost Ottawa $36.3 million, with the final total still being calculated.

In a memo to council Friday, City Manager Steve Kanellakos explained where most of that multi-million dollar prize went.

The majority, $35 million, was spent on the police response — including compensation, vehicle costs, food, lodging and operational supplies, Kanellakos said. The number drops to $27.7 million if funds spent on the RCMP are excluded.

The city hasn’t just spent money on police needs, however, with $1.3 million earmarked for its own response to the occupation.

That figure does not include any estimates of infrastructure damage or repairs, Kanellakos said, though a review of those costs is underway.

will request a refund

The city and Ottawa police are in contact with the federal and provincial governments and will seek reimbursement for most of those costs, he noted.

The memo also details supports for people working and living downtown, including services targeting mental health and wellbeing and a proposed tax deferral for businesses affected by the occupation.

Four downtown business improvement areas and one business association will receive up to $50,000 each for certain approved projects, while seven other central BIAs will receive up to $25,000.

The Ottawa Markets Society will receive up to $25,000 for economic stimulus initiatives, and the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition will receive $50,000 to provide more outdoor concerts during the ‘summer.

The federal and provincial governments also announced funding for Ottawa business and tourism.

Steve Kanellakos, seen here in 2019, says the city will seek reimbursement for the costs of the occupation from its provincial and federal counterparts. (Jean Delisle/Radio-Canada)

Free public transit continues to be offered on the LRT line, a number of OC Transpo routes and Para Transpo trips to and from select downtown areas until March 26.

Parking also remains free on municipal grounds, including Ottawa City Hall, until March 31.

The council also passed a motion, Kanellakos noted, to develop an awareness campaign on the harmful effects of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

United Way East Ontario has also reached out to Ottawans with a relief fund created for those affected by the protest. Nearly $30,000 was donated to four organizations to, among other things, fund healing evenings for members of the LGBT community, Kanellakos said.

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