G20 security fence going up in downtown Toronto
Published Monday, June 7, 2010 7:50PM EDT
Construction has begun on a chain-link security fence in preparation for the G20 summit in Toronto later this month, one that will total about three kilometres in length when done.
Workers began laying down concrete bases Monday for a fence to encircle an area around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Government leaders, the finance ministers and entourages of the world's 20 wealthiest countries will gather there June 26th and 27th.
Officials say the fence will stand about three metres tall. Construction will continue night and day until it's complete.
Only those with proper identification will be allowed to enter the fenced-off area.
"The gate will have security zone checkpoints, and that's the area in which people will be able to pass through into the secured zone," said Const. Wendy Drummond, a spokesperson for the Integrated Security Unit. "They will be asked to show their pass, if they had gotten one, and on top of that, they will be required to have photo identification as well."
A spokesperson for the Council of Canadians, Mark Calzavera, believes the main function of the fence is to insulate the leaders from protesters.
"The G20 is an illegitimate summit, it shouldn't be happening. It shouldn't be the richest countries in the world getting together to make the rules for all the rest of them…," Calzavera told CTV News. "It should be the G192 and it should be in New York.
"This fence is really about stopping people from protesting and keeping them as far away as possible. Spending a billion dollars on something like this is outrageous."
Toronto city Coun. Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) expressed concern for Torontonians living in or nearby the security zone.
"When you see a fence, literally a lane of traffic away from the front door of somebody's home, my concern is that that person can get in and out of their house when they need to during the month," he said.
"But as well, if damage does happen, that they're properly compensated. The words coming out of Ottawa gives me no assurance that the Harper government considers this a responsibility of theirs."
He noted that the feds had spent more than a billion dollars on the summit, so some money should have been set aside for area residents and business.
The security fencing will start coming down on June 28.
Vaughan has called a meeting to be held Thursday at St. Andrew's Church, located at the southeast corner of Simcoe Street and King Street West. The meeting is to start at 6 p.m.
One person has decided to deal with any potential problems by taking his family and leaving the country.
"The safety is obviously a big thing for us with the children," said Rahul Khasgiwale, who lives in the only condominium building within the inner security perimeter. He is also worried about the potential for life disruption, such as getting food.
Krista Holloway, another downtown resident, is eight months pregnant. She's planning on being elsewhere. "It's definitely going to be a bit of a disaster," she said.
Salina Samson worried that her already-long commute will be extended by G20 delays.
An area convenience store manager had to weigh staying open for his regular customers versus the possibility of a mob showing up.
One woman felt the G20 part of downtown will be a ghost town.
The Toronto Blue Jays were to play the Philadelphia Phillies during the G20 period, marking the first return of former Jays ace pitcher Roy Halladay to the Rogers Centre. That series has been shifted to Philadelphia.
Mirvish Productions had previously announced two of its shows will close for the G20 -- "Rock of Ages" and "Mamma Mia."
Even the Art Gallery of Ontario has joined the ranks of institutions closing for the G20 period, and it is located up on Dundas Street West and McCaul Street -- more than 600 metres north of King Street, the northern boundary of the outer security zone.
With a report from CTV Toronto's John Musselman and Naomi Parness