Running a business during the G20

The Red Tomato restaurant at 321 King Street. (Althea Manasan/CBC)

By Fred Luk, G20 citizen blogger

I agree that Toronto is ideally suited to host the G20 summit. Toronto is a diverse and multicultural city, the largest city in Canada and the centre of finance and commerce. We also have a tolerant and very competent police force that protects this very beautiful, functional and livable city.

However, I believe the sacrifice and cost to host this summit is not a sound business decision.

The Blue Jays have relocated their games to Philadelphia, Mirvish Productions will close both of their theatres on King Street during the week of the summit and large commercial tenants that reside in the financial district are telling their employees to work from home during the week of the summit.

All of the above will take away a large chunk of business from the entertainment district merchants. And now that the mayor has suggested Toronto residents avoid the downtown core during the summit, it eliminates all of the potential customers that visit the entertainment district regularly.

There are hundreds of small businesses that are affected by this summit. The small independent merchants located at street level and inside the underground pedestrian pathways, will see a drastic reduction of revenue during the summit week.

Salaries will be cut and hours of work reduced. It affects business owners and workers equally and exerts tremendous financial stress on the neighbourhood.
It is expensive to provide safety and security. The losses mentioned above are not even factored into the massive $1.2 billion security budget.

Unlike the Blue Jays and Mirvish, small business owners can not afford to close their stores.

My restaurant colleagues on King Street West (between John Street and Blue Jays Way) and I have decided to stay open during the summit weekend. We are working with our BIA to inform the media that businesses in the Toronto entertainment district are open during the summit.

We are hoping that the 10,000 local residents and some of the 25,000 delegates, visitors, police and security personnel staying in the downtown hotels will come out and support the local businesses.

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