The RCMP has spent nearly $9 million in about six months to enforce a court injunction in Fairy Creek against old-growth logging protesters blocking roads in Fairy Creek.
A breakdown of RCMP costs obtained through an access to information request shows the police force has spent just over $8.91 million on the old-growth logging protests up to Nov. 30.
At $6.22 million, personnel accounts for the majority of the total costs, with transportation and telecommunications in second at $1.68 million. The RCMP spent $826,525 on rentals and leases and $108,823 on utilities, materials and supplies.
Hundreds of people have been attempting to prevent the logging of old-growth trees in the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew, where Surrey-based forestry company Teal Jones has the rights to harvest in Tree Farm Licence 46. An injunction against protesters blocking logging roads was granted in April, and RCMP began making arrests in mid-May. About 1,180 arrests have been made since then, RCMP said in its most recent update Dec. 2.
Kathy Code, a spokeswoman for the protest group Rainforest Flying Squad, said she had been skeptical of previous amounts reported, believing they were too low for the helicopters in use and the number of officers deployed. Global News previously reported the RCMP had spent about $6.8 million until the end of October, which suggests $2.1 million was spent in November alone.
The RCMP document says the expenditures represent those processed and entered “as of the extraction date.”
Code said the money “amounts to a corporate subsidy” to Teal Jones for the enforcement of an injunction.
“Where did this get us in the end? You know, now we’ve got $9 million worth of RCMP enforcement. What’s in it for the taxpayers? What’s in it for the court’s reputation?” she said.
In November, RCMP managed to push protesters out of camps, clearing the way for logging operations, Code said. A small group of people remain at a camp near Port Renfrew to monitor the situation.
The amount spent by RCMP “pales in comparison” to the costs incurred by Teal Jones as a result of the protests, said Conrad Browne, director Indigenous partnerships and strategic relations, although he wouldn’t disclose exact figures on the financial damage to the company.
“Every judge through every process has indicated that Teal Jones has been, continues to be and will continue to be into the future damaged and harmed by the protesters being there,” Browne said.
Teal Jones has a temporary injunction in place, while awaiting a decision from a panel of three judges in B.C.’s Court of Appeal. Teal Jones appealed a decision in September that denied its application to extend the injunction. That appeal was heard in mid-November.