Canadian private security firms can't meet demand for 2010 games

Industry expert says non-Canadian guards needed to secure Olympics


''The event has taken on much more of a difficult situation because of the weapons of mass destruction threat,'' he said.

''Not just dealing with the venues per se, but dealing with all of the soft targets we have to deal with.

''There are other celebration sites outside of the venues - hotels where people are staying, restaurants - and therein lies the challenge because as you start to expand all of these potential threats outside the venue sites then you have more of a need for the private security elements because law enforcement can't deal with every single thing.''

Bernier said using private security for screening purposes was also a cost-effective measure.

A base salary for guards is around $12 an hour, so if the security unit stuck to its estimated number of hours, the cost of using private security would be about $10.8 million.

That figure doesn't take into account higher salaries for managers, or specialized personnel like drug-dog handlers or video analysis who may also be called up to provide assistance.

''It makes more economical sense to be able to utilize the industry and to use the private sector to perform this work which allows then the ISU to maximize our police resources to ensure we continue to meet all our responsibilities in all of the communities across the country,'' Bernier said.

But when new legislation takes effect later this year in B.C., the cost will skyrocket, said Robert Jonatschick, owner of Black Tower Security Services, a Vancouver-based company.

Right now, guards are licensed through the companies that employ them, but the new law will allow people to be individually licensed, essentially creating free agents who can shop their services around to the highest bidder.

''It's going to be a big mess and it's going to be a scramble and people are going to say 'Ok, well, if you want the manpower we can supply it, it's going to cost you a lot of money,' '' said Jonatschick.

''People will work eight hours to cover their present site and do another eight hours at 100 dollars an hour to cover the Olympic site.''

Knight said everyone's cost for security is going to rise as a result of the Games.

His company protects critical infrastructure projects like hospitals and hydro plants.

To remain competitive with Olympic venues, he knows he'll simply have to pay his guards more.

''So now the public monies are going to have to pay grossly inflated wages because VANOC didn't plan properly,'' he said.

''And the government is allowing that to occur with this licensing change, so how foolish is that?''

Many companies say that for now, they won't sign contracts with Olympic organizers or police, saying they don't want to promise what they can't offer at a cost they can't afford.

Vancouver Olympic organizers were unavailable to comment.