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BC reveals $900 million Olympic security cost, deal with Ottawa

B.C. Finance Minister Colin Hansen revealed today that the 2010 Winter Olympic Games security bill has shot to $900 million.

The province's portion will be $87.5 million, but it will pay for up to $165 million in infrastructure costs that the federal government would have otherwise paid over the next three years.

That brings B.C.'s total financial commitment to the Olympics to $765 million, some 25 percent over the $600 million "and not a penny more" originally pledged.

"We proposed to the federal government that this might be a way that we can live up to our obligations that actually works for everyone," said Hansen.

"One thing was clear today," said NDP leader Carole James. "It's going to cost the taxpayers more than the government's been telling us."

She called the deal with the federal government a "shell game", and said the full cost is still unknown. "The government still didn't come clean on the real cost of the Olympics. They basically just added this amount to the $600 million, which is a number nobody believes."

VANOC CEO John Furlong said the budget reflects the "complex and challenging" process of hosting a secure Olympics. "The most important thing is that it is the right budget to make absolutely certain that the Games are safe and secure," he said.

Hansen said he wanted to have the number out before the Feb. 17 B.C. budget, but the federal government was unwilling to have the amount released earlier. The announcement was finally made at 6 p.m. Ottawa time on a day when the President of the United States Of America, Barack Obama, made his first official visit to Canada.

With a file from Geoff Dembicki.

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