Toronto asks feds to move G20 summit to avoid disruptions

Monday, May 31, 2010 , Posted by TJ at 3:51 PM

OTTAWA - The City of Toronto has asked the federal government to relocate this summer's G20 summit to prevent Canada's biggest city from being "severely impacted" by the event, according to a Toronto councillor.

In a letter to his constituents this week, Councillor Adam Vaughn warns that the summit could cause "serious disruptions" to the city's downtown core.

"Summits such as this in Quebec City and Seattle have presented serious challenges to host cities. Anti-terrorism precautions, crowd control and the reality that these meetings usually draw large numbers of protesters, will mean that much of the ward will be severely impacted by security initiatives," writes Mr. Vaughn, who represents Ward 20 in Toronto, where the summit is expected to be held.

"I have received a ‘classified' briefing so far. There will be serious disruptions. The security perimeter will be much larger than the area affected by the recent NFL games, and the protests are expected to be larger than last spring's Tamil demonstrations."

Canada was originally supposed to host a meeting this summer of the G8 leaders in the cottage-country town of Huntsville, Ont., north of Toronto. But the federal government decided to expand the summit to include the G20 countries after it became clear that organization had become the dominant forum for dealing with the financial crisis and other economic issues.

The G20 summit will be held on June 26-27, and is expected to take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, a stone's throw from the CN Tower. The G8 summit will still be held in Huntsville on June 25-26.

If held at the convention centre, the summit would affect one of the city's busiest areas for business, tourism and entertainment. The convention centre lies at the edge of Toronto's financial district, and is also close to the Air Canada Centre and Union Station.

Mr. Vaughn said the city would prefer the summit to be located at Exhibition Stadium, which is slightly removed from the city's downtown core. But he says the federal government has refused to consult with his ward.

"The city has tried to convince Ottawa to move this event to Exhibition Place, but the federal government insists on staging it near Front Street, between Yonge and Spadina," Mr. Vaughn wrote in his letter.

Mr. Vaughn says the massive security preparations for the summit will disrupt his ward before and after the event.

"There will be fences, security checks and a significant number of street closures. The event may only last for two days, but preparations and clean-up will extend the period of disruption."

The Prime Minister's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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