It will be awhile before police know the total cost of Thursday’s conflict between shale gas protesters and RCMP officers, but they do know it won’t be cheap.
The cost of replacing the six burned-out RCMP vehicles alone will be in excess of $300,000.
“I certainly can say that it is going to be significant,” says RCMP Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh.
“An average cost for a police vehicle would be approximately $45,000. However, that doesn’t include equipment that would have been in the vehicles at the time.”
Add to that the costs for staff, transportation and logistical support, the price tag will likely surpass half a million dollars.
However, police aren’t willing to confirm exactly how many officers were in Rexton last week.
“Unfortunately, I can’t get into numbers of members and I’m not going to talk about resources,” says Rogers-Marsh.
Dominic Cardy, leader of the New Brunswick NDP, says better handling of the situation by the provincial government could have avoided the costs.
He says the Progressive Conservatives’ handling of the shale gas file has been disastrous.
“The Tories come out and say this is going to solve our economic problems, it’s supposed to be the centerpiece of their economic strategy,” says Cardy. “So far, the only jobs that have been created as a result of shale gas in New Brunswick are with security guards.”
Green Party Leader David Coon is calling on the province’s ombudsman to launch a public inquiry. Coon says there are too many questions that need to be answered.
“Otherwise, these kinds of things can, one, eat away in a negative way at people and, two, I expect there’d be lessons that we could learn from such an inquiry that would benefit everyone,” says Coon.
The RCMP say the cost of their operations in Rexton will come from the provincial policing budget.
They also say they can’t cover unexpected costs without an impact on other services, which could mean reduced service in some places.