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Summer summit: Everything about the G20 you were afraid to ask

June 23rd, 2010 · No Comments

A map of the security zones for the upcoming G20 summit, June 25-27. Courtesy G20 Integrated Security Unit

By Jacob Arnfield

At a price of $1 billion dollars, with international financial leaders, media, police, and protestors all congregating downtown, the G20 will be an event unlike any other the city has ever seen.

In case some of the disparate accounts have left you confused, here are some details for how the summit will alter the downtown core during the June 25 to 27 weekend.

The Integrated Security Unit (ISU) policing three separate zones will organize security. A separate entity from the federal government, the ISU brings together the RCMP, Toronto Police Services, Peel Regional Police, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Canadian Coast Guard.

The Security for the G20 summit will include three separate zones.

The most secure zone—the red zone—includes the interior of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC, 255 Front St. W.) and some hotels where the delegates are staying. This zone will be patrolled by RCMP and can only be accessed after going through an intensive accreditation process.

According to George Tucker, a member of the community relations division of ISU, the inner perimeter “won’t have a very big impact on people and the business in the downtown core.”

TPS will patrol a secondary perimeter, which will be fenced. That zone will be accessible by anyone unless the ISU receives notice of a security threat. If that occurs, the gates in the fence will be closed and the outer perimeter will become inaccessible. If you work or live within the perimeter you can voluntarily register with security to receive a pass for the zone. This is intended as an “express pass,” because those without passes will be stopped at the fence and asked questions by police.

The ISU anticipates that a line will form and the registration card will allow holders to bypass that line. Registration will not require the background check process that accreditation does. The information stored for the registration is intended to be discarded after the summit concludes.

The majority of the space between Wellington Street and Lake Shore Boulevard, Bay Street and Blue Jays Way will be inside the fenced perimeter. For full details, see the included map.

After the summit, the ISU estimates a week will be required to remove the fence.

The third zone, —a traffic control area—will be bounded by Yonge Street, Spadina Avenue, King Street, and Lake Ontario. There will be no fence to designate this area, but police will be stationed at major intersections.

It has been reported that all mailboxes, bike rings, and other street furniture will be removed from the traffic control zone for the summit. Seventy-seven new security cameras are being installed in the area for the summit. The cameras will be removed after the summit ends, but it has been reported that police will keep them to be redeployed for future use.

The arrivals and departures for “Internationally Protected People” before and after the summit are likely to cause significant traffic disturbances. Many of the dignitaries who receive this designation will, according to Tucker, be attending the G8 summit in Huntsville and not the G20, which will be visited mainly by international finance ministers and bank managers. However, all traffic will be shut down for the passage of the motorcades of any internationally protected person, including the subway lines underneath. These motorcades are likely to entangle not only the downtown core, but the highways leading from the MTCC to the airport. Additionally, the G8 takes place on June 25 and 26, and it’s likely some of the most prominent international leaders will visit the G20 on June 27.

Tomasz Bugajski/Courtesy blogTO

Recent reports estimate the total cost for security for the G8 and G20 summits have greatly exceeded their initial $179 million dollar budget, soaring to $833 million, with room in the budget for an additional $100 million.

Local councillors asked the federal government to post a bond that would cover property damages caused by the G20, but their request was denied, and local businesses and residents will need to collect through their own insurance for all third party damages.
There are a number of other prominent areas that will be affected by the summit.

Obvious sites near the MTCC will be closed. The CN Tower will not be open and Toronto Blue Jays moved their weekend series out of the Rogers Centre. The Direct Energy Centre (100 Princes’ Blvd.) will be the home of the International Media Centre for the roughly 5,000 journalists expected to attend. Kensington Market’s Pedestrian Sundays was denied a permit for June 27 due to concerns it could become a rallying point for demonstrators.

Queen’s Park will be the site for the Designated Speech Area (DSA). The DSA is legally mandated by the Supreme Court of Canada to give a site where demonstrators can be seen and heard by the summit’s participants.

A stage with cameras and audio will be erected. Those feeds will be displayed within the MTCC so that demonstrations can be viewed within the summit.

Trinity Bellwoods Park was originally announced as the home of the DSA, but due to public concerns, the ISU chose to move the area to Queen’s Park.

The move to Queen’s Park was not without consequences. It has been reported that upon hearing of the new location, U of T has decided to close the St. George campus from June 23 until the end of the summit because of its proximity to the DSA. This includes relocating those who live in residences on campus for the four days.

Dozens of demonstrations are planned beginning as early as June 18, but the bulk of them are scheduled to take place on the days of the summit.

If you plan to attend demonstrations that weekend, a new concern are the four long-range acoustical devices—more commonly referred to as sound guns or sound cannons—that Toronto police recently purchased for the summit. These cannons can cause significant pain and even hearing damage, and the Council of Canadians will be giving away earplugs to combat its effects.

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