Monday, June 21, 2010

G20: Ghost Town Toronto

The final week leading up to the G20 Summit has created a climate of uncertainty in Toronto. While there will certainly be traffic delays and protests everyone worries that violence will break out. Arriving on the GO train first thing in the morning I am shocked by the lack of people. Where I had previously experienced long line-ups, today I see none. I look around my downtown office and only 10 to 20 percent of the desks are filled. There are no long lines of taxis along the front of Union Station.
Walking downtown along Bay Street I come upon a police officer, her riot helmet with facemask attached to her belt. Groups of officers gather near major intersections and beside the gates that currently remain open. Roving groups of both Toronto and RCMP officers also carry their riot helmets.

At Yonge-Dundas Square there is more security fence and yellow caution tape. I look over the extraordinary security arrangements - what are they protecting? I realize it is sand and know that it could only be for the G20 Summit. It must be a sand box for the world leaders to escape the pressure of doing G20 stuff, a place they can play in their suit shorts, thongs on their feet, safe behind the fence and bodyguards. They couldn't bring the G20 to Wasaga Beach so they have brought Wasaga Beach down to the Toronto G20. I believe that this fake beach is far cheaper than the fake lake and I overhear special security mention costs only in the $250,000 range.
Toronto should have incorporated the security preparations into Luminato – artists should have created fencing installations that would have made the City’s downtown core a work of art. Instead of just labels on a map, the orange and red areas should have the streets painted orange and red. We should have a reason to stay in Toronto, not run from it.

See more fence and security pictures after the jump.

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