By Rosie Lombardi
The largest security force on record is gearing up for the G20 Summit to be held in downtown Toronto at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in June.
By Rosie Lombardi
Political leaders, finance ministers and other dignitaries from 20
countries will be attending the event ”“ and anti-poverty, anarchist and
other activist groups will also be in attendance to protest the
economic policies and powerful interests the G20 represents.
“This is the largest security event in Canada’s history — there will be
more security forces than there were for the Vancouver Olympics,” said
Ed Boltuc, a member of the G20 planning team for the Toronto Police
Service, at a seminar held on March 23.
The event was organized by the Building Owners and Managers Association
(BOMA), a Canada-wide industry association, to address the questions
and concerns of Toronto property managers about the impact of the G20
on their buildings, businesses and tenants.
A cross-section of over 150 BOMA members was in attendance, including
major property management organizations, such as Oxford, Brookfield and
Prime Real Estate, as well as insurance companies, such as Manulife
Financial and Great West Life Realtors.
“At our urging, many of these organizations also invited their security
contractors, such as ADP, Paragon and O’Reilly Security, to the event,”
said Don Butcher, director of marketing at BOMA Toronto. “Our members
are more concerned about the security and potential inconvenience to
their tenants and customers than damage to their buildings.”
The G20 planning team is reaching out to all stakeholders who may need
help or information about the security measures that will be in place,
said Boltuc. “We’re here to cause the least disruption.
Security for the G20 is being handled by the Integrated Security Unit,
a joint partnership that includes the RCMP, the OPP, Canadian Forces
and local Toronto police.
Although officials won’t divulge the numbers, the RCMP has reportedly
booked 49,500 hotel room-nights for the event, according to the
Security zones and responsibilities will be split up into concentric
rings, with the summit site at the centre, explained Boltuc. The
innermost security zone will be handled by the RCMP, the second
innermost by the OPP, and the outermost ones by the Canadian Forces and
Designated speech areas are being set up for lawful demonstrations and
protests and will be announced in the near future, he said. “People
will have the right to express their opinions and organize peaceful
demonstrations in these areas.”
But there are many fringe activist groups that will likely refuse to
stay within these designated areas and may even try to infiltrate the
law-abiding groups, he warned. “We’ve set up a Twitter account and will
be communicating information about demonstrations to all stakeholders
during the G20.”
Organizations that are open for business within the inner perimeters
during the weekend of June 26 will need to obtain credentials for their
staff, suppliers and other parties, and these will be used to verify
their movements during the event.
“We’re processing thousands of
applications now. Starting April 1, we’ll be issuing information and
procedures about this,” said Boltuc.
No traffic delays are expected during rush hour on the Friday before
the event, he said. Most delegates are expected to arrive on the
Saturday, and there will be many motorcades transporting dignitaries
from the airport. “Traffic will be slowed to create safe zones around
these vehicles so nothing is on either side. But motorcades won’t be
set up for all of them ”“ some will be coming by taxi.”
Boltuc urged the audience to report any suspicious loitering or other
activity in their buildings to the planning team’s 1-888-446-4047
hotline, however insignificant it might appear. “Many activist groups
are casing the area now and picking the buildings they want to scale
later in order to hang signs or to launch other protest activities.
Businesses in the area need to act as our eyes and ears.”