Boarding up Toronto

Boards are used to cover windows in anticipation of the G20 summit in Toronto. (Carmen Millet)

By Carmen Millet, G20 citizen blogger

carmen52.jpgI was listening to CBC Radio One on my way home from work yesterday and, not surprisingly, talk continued to be about preparations for the G20. Even an earthquake in Toronto wasn't able to knock conversation of the G20 out of the news, but I digress.

Chatting about the continued lockdown of Toronto, including additional security measures implemented in the downtown core, one of the hosts referenced the boarding up of a particular building she'd witnessed on a walk. She mentioned the address and I thought "that sure sounds close to my building". Sure enough, when I drove up, there it was -- the entire facade was covered in plywood.

My heart sank.

Living within the security zone has required that I become witness to massive changes in our fair city: fake lakes drilled, baby trees pulled, 5,000+ police officers imported, three-metre-high fences erected, LCBOs closed (gasp!), bank names removed and everyday life grinding practically to a halt. Toronto, as I know and love it, has seemingly ceased to exist.

Seeing the plywood covering my building immediately reminded me of living in Texas. Life in Houston is largely different than life in Toronto. In Houston, the heat, humidity, widespread availability of Tex-Mex cuisine, Target, saying "y'all" instead of "eh", driving in rain instead of snow, and a whole host of other things, are daily reminders that I'm not in Kansas anymore.

Preparing for hurricanes is another difference between life in Texas and life in Toronto. I'm told that Toronto often has "hurricanes," but, to be fair, they're probably more remnants of a storm that's slammed into the shoreline of a southern U.S. state and turned north than it is feeling the brunt of a hurricane at its most powerful.

Boarding up your house with plywood is simply part of life in a Gulf Coast summer. When a Category 4 hurricane is bearing down on you, trips to Home Depot and the sound of drills on metal windowpanes become all too familiar. So when I drove up to my building and saw plywood covering the windows, I realized for the first time that my two worlds had collided. I also couldn't help but think about the irony. In Texas, we cover our windows with plywood to protect our house and home from natural disasters. In Toronto, apparently, we cover our windows with plywood when 20 of the world's great leaders hold a meeting on our doorstep.

And so it goes.