SURREY – The Surrey RCMP spent roughly $30,000 to cover the 2014 Surrey Regional Economic Summit last February.
The bill included wages, rented toilets and radios, and even boxed lunches, said Surrey RCMP Sgt. Dale Carr.
The City of Surrey and the Business Council of British Columbia organize the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, which was launched in 2008. Speakers at this year’s summit were former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, former Greek prime minister George Papandreou and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.
The City of Surrey has always insisted the events come at no cost to taxpayers, and funds from ticket sales finance the event.
Co-chair of the summit, Coun.
Linda Hepner, said the Surrey RCMP extracted from its regular operating budget to cover its costs.
Community events, such as Vaisakhi and the Ride to Conquer Cancer, have to foot the bill for policing costs. Hepner said the summits are a different ball game when they involve dignitaries.
"If there had been a visiting dignitary from India at the (Vaisakhi) parade, there would have been a protocol that would have fit in there," Hepner said. "Once you tell (the police) who’s coming, there are national requirements."
Carr said that’s true.
"We inserted ourselves. The city certainly didn’t come and say we want police there," he said. "We did an assessment, in partnership with our federal policing partners. In keeping with our mandates, as far as protective policing, we made the determination that we needed to be there for the safety of the internationally-protected people there and the community itself based on intelligence."
Carr said it was purely an operational decision and had nothing to do with the city.
Carr said if the detachment learned the president of the U.S. was coming to Surrey tomorrow, for one reason or another, it would be handled the same and would mean operating costs.
Carr emphasized the dignitaries were the reason for the security measures, adding the RCMP weren’t involved in the 2013 summit, when international entrepreneur and philanthropist Richard Branson came to speak. "He is not an internationallyprotected person… and does not fall under that protocol and mandate," Carr noted.
"When you really peel back the covers, there’s an indirect cost to the city," he said, but added the $30,000 spent on security for this year’s summit is "peanuts," when a murder investigation can cost close to $1 million.
In 2013, the RCMP’s budget was roughly $113 million.