MediaWatch: Media Co-Op Cooks The Books On Occupy Toronto’s Costs To The City…

Oy Vey!

The Toronto Media Co-Op put out a rather humorous story today, claiming that Occupy Toronto saved the city of Toronto $83,440 during it’s encampment. First, the story is a day late and a dollar short- Eric Hamilton-Smith did this at Occupy Vancouver last November. But, at least, they admit that his work is the motivation for theirs. More importantly, the numbers they have cooked are way off.

First, they stated that OT housed 200 people for 40 nights. Now, this isn’t entirely true- a number of the facilitators actually stayed at the Toronto Sheraton, paid for by the unions. The next problem is that not all of those 200 people were homeless- a high estimate is that only 30% were. I’d also add that a number of the homeless population (about 10%) were those people who refuse to stay at shelters.

So, their estimate was that the city saved $419,680 in shelter costs. How does that work? If a shelter space is empty, doesn’t the city still have to pick-up the costs for it’s operations? Of course it does! But, let’s be (very) generous and imagine that empty spaces mean cost savings. In that case, with 30% of the population needing shelters, the savings would have been $62,952.

Next comes the food. The writer estimates that Occupy gave out 1,300 meals and snacks per day- and, using the city’s costs of $6.88 per person for feeding the homeless, Occupy saved the city $357,760 in food costs. First, the city contracts out it’s food, and if people aren’t eating it, a lot will go to waste. But, once again, I’ll be generous and ignore that. But, once again, a (high) estimate of the homeless population at Occupy is 30%. So, 30% of $357,760 is $107,328.

Next, the writer estimates that Occupy handed-out 400 sleeping bags to people. First, one would have to imagine that if people are staying at shelters they won’t need to be issued sleeping bags. But, let’s be generous and say that the 30% who were homeless would have got them. This would bring the total savings to $6,000.

Now, let’s calculate out the total ‘savings’ the writer claims Occupy made for the city. Including shelter, food and sleeping bags, the total comes out to $176,280. The writer’s estimate was $797,440. That’s what I call cooking the books!

The writer then gives us the official estimated cost to the city for policing Occupy Toronto- $661,500. But, they missed a few other costs. First, there were costs for EMS services- $36,909. There were costs to the Parks & Recreation board of $8,181. Waste management costs were $5,075, and there was a cost for the Toronto Fire Service of $1,171. Last, volunteers cleaned-up and re-sodded the park at an estimated cost of $150,000.

So, the writer’s estimate is that the cost was $661,500- but, the real cost was $862,836. Subtracting the ‘savings’ that Occupy Toronto made for the city, the total cost to the city was $686,556. This is a far cry from the $83,440 of savings that Media Co-Op claim in their article…

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