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Olympic security budget comes in under estimates

Mounties announce spending $523 million of original $588 budget



Security efforts provided during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games came in just under $1 billion for an event that logged only 876 mostly trivial incidents in the RCMP's emergency management software database, according to a summary obtained by The Canadian Press through the Freedom of Information Act.

Whether that can be attributed to appropriate, preventative security measures taken leading up to and during the Winter Games or to a lack of interest by terrorist organizations in attacking a Canadian-held mega-event will likely remain unknown.

The $900 million security budget for the Games soaked up a majority of the federal government's overall $1.25 billion allocated for the event, with the RCMP's portion taking up around $523 million - $35 million less than their $558 million budget.

The numbers were significantly higher than the original $175 million security budget for the Games. Critics maintain the final numbers show a gross misuse of public money for an event whose security threats didn't warrant the extra spending.

The integrated efforts between all levels of government put approximately 16,000 security personnel on the ground between Vancouver and Pemberton. Included in the joint effort were forces from the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit, specialist police units, integrated national security enforcement teams, the Canadian Armed Forces, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Olympic Shiprider Pilot, Perimeter Intrusion Protection Services (PIPS) and private security.

More than 500 military personnel set up shop in Whistler's backcountry alone, joining forces with the RCMP to monitor the areas around the athletes' village and Whistler Olympic Park. Back in January, Pique reporter Jesse Fereras was given a tour of the compound, but when he queried army leaders about what they were protecting against, he hit a brick wall. RCMP Staff Sergeant Andre Labrecque response to Ferreras was that it was a sensitive subject, everything's being monitored and he'll "have to leave it at that."

Included in the equipment for that one security group was a Persistent Surveillance Aerostat - a floating apparatus equipped with a suite of cameras mounted to a helium-filled balloon. Its purpose was to monitor backcountry paths leading to the athletes' village.

The presence of scuba divers in the waters between Vancouver and Squamish, along with Aurora aircrafts, maritime helicopters and Griffon helicopters for land surveillance helped eat up more of the budget. Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) airplanes assisted Canadian F-18 aircraft and NORAD with aerospace surveillance.

The intrusion-detection equipment and electronic perimeter security systems monitored by the ISU were supplied and maintained under a $30.5-million contract with Honeywell Canada.

For all the money spent the question remains: was the threat ever real, and if so, what was it?