Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Vancouver Mayor to use Olympics lobby for a commitment to InSite


Vancouver mayor wants Ottawa to beef up Olympic security budget

Published Saturday December 1st, 2007

VANCOUVER - Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan is heading to Ottawa to ask for a beefed-up security budget for the 2010 Olympics that would include money for areas outside more high-profile zones.

Sullivan said Saturday that areas called the "Olympic domain", which will include the athletes' village and some sites for medal ceremonies, will be secured by the RCMP, but surrounding areas to be policed by municipal forces also need major protection.

"We do want to stress that security concerns for the Olympics go beyond the Olympic domain,"said Sullivan, who will leave for Ottawa on Sunday to meet with several MPs, including federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

"I'd like to make the case that the municipal police forces should not be unduly taxed to handle what seems to me is clearly Olympic-related security," Sullivan said.
He said he doesn't have a figure in mind when it comes to how much money is needed for more security at the Games.

The RCMP said in an internal report leaked to the media in July that the $175-million security budget the Mounties have for the Olympics is not enough.

Sullivan said his trip to Ottawa will also include applying for $10 million in funding to construct two downtown Vancouver plazas where the public could participate in cultural events and watch various Olympic events on a big screen. He said he was in Torino for that city's 2006 Games, which included such a venue.

"You'd hear the whole crowd gasp (with) oohs and ahs as they would watch the skiing. It was a really great way for the whole community to participate in what was happening."

Sullivan said his trip to Ottawa will also include discussions with Health Minister Tony Clement about the federal anti-drug strategy and innovative treatment options for Vancouver.

He said he will speak to Clement about the need to keep North America's only safe-injection site open for drug addicts.

The facility, called Insite, began operating in 2003 and is funded by the B.C. government.

It allows people to inject their own drugs under medical supervision as a way to reduce harm connected to drug use.

But the federal government hasn't committed to keeping it open permanently, saying more research is needed into how such sites affect prevention, treatment and crime.

Last month, Ottawa gave Insite another six-month reprieve, meaning it can keep its doors open until next June under an exemption from Canada's drug laws.

"We're hoping to get a significant commitment to Vancouver's drug-addiction problems," Sullivan said. [emphasis added]

Sullivan is also to pay a visit to Toronto, where a spokesman for the mayor says he will speak to the Hong Kong-Canada Business Association on using the Olympics as a catalyst for social and economic change.

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