Thu, Nov 23, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Violence mars Vancouver rally over Olympics fund

AP , VANCOUVER

Three people were arrested in Vancouver when a protest over development costs for the 2010 Winter Olympics turned violent.

About 50 protesters had gathered on Monday night at Vancouver Public Library where a city budget meeting was being held to discuss, in part, an Olympic fund. Police said the crowd had to be controlled after one protester made a grab for an officer's gun belt.

The Vancouver Anti-Poverty Committee criticized funding for the 2010 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Vancouver and nearby Whistler.

"Wedged between budget recommendations from the city is a proposal for a $20 million slush fund that will be extorted from public funds," a protest notice on the committee's Web site said. "The money wasted on the Olympics could have housed every homeless woman in Vancouver."

City councilor Peter Ladner, who had to be escorted out of the building by police, said the city has proposed putting aside C$5 million (US$4.4 million) a year for the next four years for Olympic legacy projects. He said the meeting was to get public input on the budget proposals.

"There was a level of violence last night that we weren't ready for," Vancouver Police Department spokesman Tim Fanning said.

During the melee one protester grabbed for a female officer's belt, which held her handgun, baton and pepper spray.

Charges were filed against three protesters, include assaulting an officer, causing a disturbance and obstructing an officer.

A civic association representing Vancouver's Downtown Eastside -- considered one of the poorest neighborhoods in Canada -- recently said that hundreds would lose their homes in cheap hotels as developers sought to turn them into Olympic accommodations.

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