The federal government will hold June’s G20 summit on the edge of Toronto’s financial district, a decision that will close a large swath of downtown — and sideline baseball fans — as the city kicks off gay pride week.
An official announcement is not expected for a few weeks, but sources tell The Canadian Press that the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, next to the CN Tower, has been selected over locations outside downtown.
Canada has already hosted a G8 summit and other international meetings in the building. Plus, it gives the government a chance to put the spotlight on its stable financial district — safe and quiet within a security perimeter — at a time when G20 leaders are looking for role models.
“The whole point is to showcase Canada as an attractive place to do business and the way we regulate our banking sector,” said Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for the prime minister.
“We have a good story and we want it told well,” he said, without confirming the location.
The June 26-27 summit is expected to involve tens of thousands of people from delegations all over the world, along with media, support staff and hospitality crews. It’s also sure to attract thousands of protesters, as well as non-governmental organizations and trade unions hoping to make their points known to world leaders.
The G20 groups the world’s richest countries as well as important emerging markets and has become the primary decision-making body for global economic affairs. It also includes the European Union, as well as representatives from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In the past, its meetings have invited other key leaders and organizations.
Ottawa has issued a contract to print up 47,700 laminated accreditation badges, for both the G20 summit and for the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont., being held just before.
But the G20 summit will displace far more people than it draws in.
The Toronto Blue Jays are scheduled to play against the Philadelphia Phillies on both June 26 and June 27, in Toronto. The Rogers Centre, where the games are normally held, is virtually next door to the Convention Centre, and will almost certainly be encompassed in the security zone that is always set up to protect world leaders at summits. So discussions are underway to move at least one of the games, sources said.
The Gay Pride Parade, which usually draws over a million visitors from around the world, has already been pushed back a week.
Normally, the parade is held on the last weekend in June, after a week of festivities. The parade is meant to commemorate New York City’s Stonewall Riots of June 28, 1969.
Organizers have postponed everything by a week in anticipation of summit activities. Still, gay pride activities will start just before the summit, on June 25, and build up to a parade a week after the summit, on July 4.
As for the media, Ottawa had initially booked the Toronto Congress Centre near Toronto’s international airport, but then had a change of heart and decided to put the media centre downtown.
Ottawa is spending up to $2.6 million to set up a host broadcasting system that will pipe news conferences and photo-ops into the media centres for both the G8 and the G20, documents show.
The G20 planning lags behind arrangements being made for the G8 summit in Ontario’s cottage country, north of Toronto.
There, officials have been working on logistics for a year and a half. They’re building new structures and investing millions of dollars in upgrades and beautification efforts. They’re well-advanced in setting up a security perimeter and making arrangements for protesters.
By contrast, G20 planning got off to a late start. Ottawa was not able to confirm until last September that it would host the summit. And a host city was not formally announced until December.
Still, officials say some of the preparatory work for the G20 was already done for the G8, and there should be no problem getting ready by June, especially since Toronto is well equipped to handle large crowds.
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