VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
B.C. to spend $20M on case of missing women: Costs doubling
VANCOUVER - The British Columbia government is expecting to spend $20-million this year on the police probe into the fate of more than 50 women who have vanished from the city's Downtown Eastside, doubling the latest tally of costs in the case.
Richard Coleman, the B.C. Solicitor-General, last month said it would cost just half that. Yesterday, he blamed the new costs on the expansion of the investigation to include other property owned by prime suspect Robert Pickton, whose Port Coquitlam pig farm had been the focus of the probe.
''More than anything else, once we incorporated the other property into the investigation, it doubled what we will require'' in terms of cost.
Mr. Coleman said the province is in talks with Ottawa for the federal government to cover 30% of the cost of the investigation.
''The indications we have had are that there will not be a problem with cost-sharing,'' he said.
The massive Air-India investigation -- considered one of the most elaborate in Canadian history -- cost between $30-million and $50-million over about 15 years, according to some estimates. Three B.C. men linked to Sikh extremism are facing charges in the 1985 bombing of an Air-India Boeing 747 that killed 329 passengers and crew.
At last count, police said there were 54 women who had vanished without a trace from the Downtown Eastside.
Investigators were musing about adding 14 women to the list. However, police have not held a briefing on the case recently. They do not answer questions about the investigation outside of those rare gatherings.
Mr. Pickton has been charged with murdering seven of the women, mostly drug addicts and prostitutes. Police sealed off Mr. Pickton's 4.5-hectare farm in early February and charged him later in the month with two counts of first-degree murder. Additional counts followed. Mr. Pickton, 52, is charged with killing two women who vanished in 1999 and five who disappeared last year. He faces a preliminary hearing in November.
The joint RCMP-Vancouver Police team handling the investigation has said that the charges were prompted by the discovery of human remains on the Pickton property, a messy mix of farm and junkyard located amidst the suburbs in Port Coquitlam.
DNA analysis has also been crucial to the case, police have said.
Mr. Pickton has not entered a plea in court. However, he has denied killing one of the women, in response to a civil suit launched by the family of one of them.
In an effort police have likened to the search for victims of terrorist attacks in the wreckage of the World Trade Center, dozens of bone experts and other technicians have pored over the Pickton property since June looking for human remains.
In a process driven by more than 50 students and specialists, soil is being gathered from the site with the for closer inspection.
Police have not released any information about the results of the search.
Updated: August 21, 2016