Ent. District says it will be open during G20
Toronto mayor David Miller is warning city residents to completely avoid driving in the downtown core during the G20 summit, even as Entertainment District businesses are trying to lure customers during that period.
Miller told CTV News Channel on Monday that it is inevitable that Torontonians will be delayed by security should they choose to drive on Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June 27 while world leaders gather at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front Street.
"It will be very difficult to access downtown by car," Miller said.
"You can easily get (downtown) by subway -- the TTC -- or by GO Transit. That's what we're asking Torontonians to do and that way ensures that Toronto remains vital and not get caught up in the traffic delays from the security."
But at the same time, members of the Toronto Entertainment District Business Improvement Area are worried about drawing customers to their bars and restaurants with the heavy security hanging over the downtown core.
It is offering a dinner and show deal at the Second City comedy club, and many restaurants are offering summit deals.
"We are also doing a G20 week and weekend package … If you spend money in the Entertainment District (and) the same day, show the receipt to participating restaurants, they're going to give you 15 per cent off your dinner," said Janice Solomon of the BIA.
Some businesses are putting their hopes in the thousands who live in the core and the 30,000 delegates coming in from around the world.
Mirvish Productions has closed two of its shows for the G20 weekend -- "Rock of Ages" and "Mamma Mia!" Others say they can't afford to take the weekend off.
Fred Luk of Fred's Not Here on King Street West, the outer street of the G20 security zone and a neighbour to the Mirvish businesses, is one of the businesses participating. He's hoping people won't be scared off by the security measures.
"We have a great police force -- competent, tolerant -- so I feel we should be safe," he said.
Tourism Toronto will be gathering information about businesses in the area that will be staying open and informing local hotels so that G20 delegates know, CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness reported.
Meanwhile, one public-sector business that will be out of pocket is the Toronto Parking Authority. About 30 of its parking machines will be removed for the G20 summit.
The agency's Gwyn Thomas thinks the G20 will cost them about $20,000 in lost revenue -- a loss for which the feds won't reimburse the city.
City didn't want G20 downtown
Miller said City Hall favoured Exhibition Place as a meeting location, but federal officials made alternate decisions.
"From our perspective we thought the conference would be better hosted at Exhibition Place – which, for those not from Toronto, is our exhibition grounds – which is already fenced and could be made secure at a fraction of the cost.
"That was not the decision Ottawa made and they're the ones who will have to answer to Canadians about the details."
The cost of hosting the two-day meeting is surprising and rivals the city's estimate of how much it would cost to install a light rail transit line along Finch Ave., Miller said.
"Of course, like many Canadians, the cost seems totally disproportionate. But, we're not responsible for that part of things. That's a federal responsibility," Miller said.
"It's a massive amount of money and from the city's perspective we look at other things we want to do – and we're proud to host the G20, by the way. It gives us a chance to show the world's media all of the Toronto stories, which is terrific. But $1 billion would buy us a Finch light rail transit line. It's a very significant amount of money. Like everyone, I was very surprised by the cost."
The G20 will bolster Toronto's international profile as thousands of reporters from all over the world descend on the city in search of stories, he said.
"We hope they tell the story of Toronto and of course that's worth an awful lot for our business community for our cultural communities and just for our reputation."
With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness