Idle police cruisers on quiet Toronto residential streets and abandoned buses parked on Avenue Road, University Avenue and College Street were a common sight throughout February 2022.
They were visible clues to a massive Toronto Police Services operation taking place in the snow-covered city from February 2-27 — the force working to deter the kind of protest or occupation that rocked downtown Ottawa and to discourage stop.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request to Global News show Toronto Police have spent $7.6 million on their local operation to stop the so-called “Freedom Convoy” from occupying the city and another $1.2 million Millions of dollars to send officers and resources to support the Ottawa Police Department in both February and April.
The Toronto Police Services budget is approved by the Toronto Police Services Board and ratified by the Toronto City Council. The budget for 2022 is around 1.1 billion US dollars.
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On January 28, a convoy of protesters from across Canada descended on downtown Ottawa.
The protest’s stated goal was to remove all COVID-19 mandates across Canada, with the federal government’s vaccination mandate for cross-border truckers becoming the short explanation for the group’s protest.
The convoy that arrived in Ottawa stayed in the city for about three weeks, occupying the area in front of Parliament Hill and some residential streets.
Booming truck horns, musical performances by DJs and late-night parties were a constant in the capital.
Toronto Police Department figures show that between January 28 and February 22, officers were dispatched from Toronto to Ottawa to assist overwhelmed local police. More than $112,000 was spent on regular pay for Toronto Police Services employees, including $554,962 in overtime.
Toronto paramedics also cost $41,866 for Ottawa assistance, while the Toronto Fire cost $22,100 for the Ottawa protest.
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When the reality set in that the so-called “Freedom Convoy” was more than a weekend of protests, Toronto police began work on a multi-million dollar operation to thwart efforts to seal the area around the provincial legislature occupy.
Police data shows a Toronto-based operation to manage a “trucker convoy” took place in Toronto between Feb. 2 and 27 – at a total cost of $7,636,988.
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“While we do not disclose our operational tactics, we can tell you that given what happened in Ottawa, extensive planning and resources have gone into supporting our operations these weekends to avoid any impact on critical infrastructure, businesses, local residents and roads,” a Toronto Police Department spokesman told Global News.
The weekend of February 5th and 6th saw a particularly large police presence – marked by helicopters, police cruisers and heavy machinery.
University Avenue was closed between College Street and Queen Street, along with College Street between University Avenue and Yonge Street. Closures also affected Queen’s Park Crescent and parts of Queen Street West and Bay Street.
“Additional rolling and static closures in and around the downtown core are expected throughout the weekend,” police said at the time.
At the time, Toronto Mayor John Tory said police were making preparations “because we all want to do everything we can to avoid the situation that we’re seeing in Ottawa.”
Toronto police are closing some downtown streets as officers prepare for the expected “convoy” protest
A major protest and rally took place that weekend, closing Bloor Street at its intersection with University Avenue, but protesters cleared by the end of the weekend without establishing a long-term presence in the city’s downtown area.
“Ultimately, the actions we took in a highly dynamic situation, in collaboration with our public and private sector partners, were successful in preventing undue disruption while safeguarding public safety and enabling peaceful demonstrations,” he said Toronto Police Spokesman.
The vast majority of public money used to avoid an occupation of Toronto ($6.8 million) went to overtime payments to police officers, with $132,299 classified as benefits, Freedom of Information figures say.
Police also spent $174,578 on tow trucks.
Ontario Provincial Police – along with officers from Peel, Barrie, Hamilton and Waterloo – were also deployed in the preventive operation. Information released under Freedom of Information states that these costs totaled approximately $545,539.
“Invoices and details have not yet been submitted or verified,” the information reads.
The police operation continued throughout February, with regular road closures and a visible police presence in the areas surrounding the legislature and downtown Toronto.
When the so-called “Rolling Thunder” protest took place in Ottawa in April, Toronto police spent an additional $333,550 to support police in the nation’s capital.
“The support we have provided in Ottawa in conjunction with many other police services across the country has also helped put an end to a very disruptive takeover by protesters in this city,” Toronto Police said in reference to 1, $2 million in resources allocated during the February and April protests.
– with files from Gabby Rodrigues and Ryan Rocca of Global News
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https://globalnews.ca/news/9048900/toronto-police-freedom-convoy-protest-policing-cost/ Toronto Police Spent $7.6M Dealing With Potential Local Convoys, Figures Show – Toronto