Ottawa police in line for $50M federal funding boost to patrol parliamentary precinct

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) will receive $50 million in federal funding over the next five years to enhance security near Parliament Hill.The proposed funding, to be dispensed in equal $10-million annual payments beginning in 2024-2025, will help “bolster the Ottawa Police Services’ presence around the Parliamentary campus,” according to the 2024 federal budget unveiled Tuesday.The area includes Wellington Street, the epicentre of a disruptive convoy protest in early 2022.The City of Ottawa later estimated the cost of policing that event at $55 million, while subsequent demonstrations that spring and summer were estimated to have cost OPS an additional $12 million.In April 2022, the OPS said it expected the federal government to cover all policing costs stemming from the convoy protest through Public Safety Canada’s Nation’s Capital Extraordinary Policing Costs Program.Costs continued in 2023In a report to the Ottawa Police Services Board last month, OPS said it continued to experience “significant expenditure pressures due to major events and demonstrations” over the course of 2023.Those one-day and multi-day events included a smaller repeat of the convoy protest known as “Convoy 2.0,” official visits by the presidents of the United States and Ukraine, the “1 Million March 4 Children” and a counter-protest, and “demonstrations related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”According to OPS, the frequency of these events required the deployment of officers “almost every weekend.”Police and demonstrators square off on Wellington Street on Feb. 19, 2022, toward the end of the convoy protest. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)All told, those “events and demonstrations pressures” amounted to $15.4 million last year, according to OPS.When Ontario Premier Doug Ford visited Ottawa last month, he and Mayor Mark Sutcliffe called for “$60 million for Ottawa’s unique and excess costs arising from managing protests and demonstrations in the capital.”The province has also promised the city $48 million over three years to enhance public safety. Of that, $20 million is contingent on receiving that federal funding for “national protest event response and public safety.”Call for ‘more reflective’ fundingIn its March report, OPS said it has had to rely on resources from partner agencies during these events, and called for “a more reflective, multi-year funding model from Public Safety Canada that will better reflect the demands on the OPS due to Ottawa being the Nation’s capital.”The $50-million, five-year funding proposed in the 2024 federal budget seems to answer that call.While the funding is specifically aimed at bolstering the local police presence near Parliament Hill, how the money is spent will be left to the discretion of OPS.Sutcliffe said the city was hoping for more federal support for Ottawa police, but called the federal funding “a big step forward” nonetheless.”We’re grateful for the support,” Sutcliffe said. “There’s no question that this is an area that has changed dramatically in the last few years, that the pressures on the Ottawa Police Service of policing a nation’s capital have grown exponentially in recent years.”Sutcliffe said it’s a burden that no other local police force is expected to bear.”Our police service and our local taxpayers are faced with the burden of of addressing that, so this financial support from the federal government will help a lot,” he said.The federal budget also proposes spending $21 million over the next five years on “supporting contract policing.”The Parliamentary Protective Service was created in 2015 to provide security on Parliament Hill, while the RCMP also has jurisdiction over parts of downtown Ottawa.The OPS is responsible for policing the rest of the city including Wellington Street.All in a Day5:18What is the City of Ottawa getting from the 2024 federal budget?From police funding to reductions to the public service…CBC reporter Arthur White-Crummey spent the day combing through the federal budget to find out how the government’s spending promises and cuts will affect this city.

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