Many Torontonians are fleeing the city to greener, fence-free pastures this weekend, leaving the downtown core looking like a ghost town, but there are a few who must or want to stick around for the G20.
Whether you failed to secure a spot at a friend's cottage or you're a protest tourist or a protester yourself set to hit the pavement, here's a guide for how to survive the summit weekend.
How to dress:
Offices and condominium managers have sent out advice to employees and residents, urging them to dress casual so as not to become a target.
"Business attire," one property management company with two buildings near the perimeter told residents in a four-page guide, "may put you in a susceptible position."
The guide by Enhanced Management Services, which manages of 19 and 23 Brant St. near King Street, advised residents to wear casual clothes. Similar guidelines went out to office workers in the security perimeter area.
As to what casual, non-threatening attire is, that's open to interpretation.
What to stock:
The same condominium manager urged residents to leave town if possible and stock up 72 hours' worth of food and water, suggesting two liters of water per person per day. Other items that may be worth stockpiling for those living or working downtown include:
- Manual can opener.
- Flashlight and batteries.
- Battery-powered or wind-up radio.
- First aid kit.
- Cash in smaller bills such as $10.
- Extra keys for car and house.
- Change for pay phones.
How to get around:
Twitter accounts to follow for updates throughout the weekend
@G8G20ISUca Updates from the Integrated Security Unit responsible for G20 security
@Torontopolice Updates from the Toronto Police Services
@TTCnotices Updates from the TTC
@Traffic Services Police traffic/road safety updates
@GOTRAIN GO Transit updates
@OPP_GTATraffic OPP traffic updates
@cbcreporters Official CBC account for reporting on G20
@g20mobilize Updates by protester umbrella group Toronto Community Mobilization Network
With numerous traffic warnings and public transit route detours, perhaps the best ways to get around the downtown core — for short distances, at least — are to walk or hop on a bicycle. But don't forget the underground PATH will be closed for the weekend.
Sgt. Tim Burrows, a Toronto Police Services traffic department member who is part of the Integrated Security Unit, said there's no real way to know what all the traffic disruptions will be. Many organizers work with the police and give them notice of their protest locations, but some groups won't, he said.
The ISU, the agency responsible for G20 security, is posting updates on its website about traffic disruptions, but the best bet for immediate updates on highway delays might be following @OPP_GTATraffic on Twitter.
A slew of major arteries and highways in the Greater Toronto Area will be hit with frequent closures. In particular, highways 427 and 401, Queen Elizabeth Way and the Gardiner will have frequent closures, while the Don Valley Parkway will also be impacted, according to the ISU.
Motorcades will likely cause delays around Pearson International Airport on highways 427 and 401. Both GO Transit and the TTC will also have the latest information on their Twitter accounts.
In case of injury
Hospitals are on high alert this weekend, with co-ordinated plans for deploying staff if large numbers of people require medical attention. Many hospitals have set up outdoor tents to serve as decontamination stations to treat people affected by noxious substances like pepper spray or tear gas.
"Really what we're preparing for in the most part is just minor things like heat and traffic disruptions," said Dr. Harold Ovens, director of the Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital.
If you plan to sightsee at a protest or take part, here are a few tips:
- Drink lots of water.
- Soak a bandana in lemon juice or vinegar and carry it in a Ziploc bag. Use the cloth to breathe if tear gas is used.
- Sunblock, light clothing and close-toed shoes are advisable.
- Watch the protesters around you. If it looks like violence could occur, leave immediately.
- Watch the police. They're trained in protests. If you see them putting gas masks on, get out your vinegar-soaked kerchief.
- Bring ear plugs in case you encounter a sound cannon.
Source: Integrated Security Unit, protest groups
Paramedics will also be on hand at protests to help anyone who gets injured.
Location of protests
Whether you want to join in or keep your distance, the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, an umbrella protest group, has a list of planned protests for both Saturday and Sunday.
The protest areas at Queen's Park North and Allan Gardens will likely be popular, Burrows said, as will the downtown summit perimeter fence.
News emerged Friday that recently implemented legislation has given police new powers for the duration of the G20. Under the regulations, anyone who comes within five metres of the security area is obliged to give police their name and state the purpose of their visit, upon request. If they fail to provide ID or give a reason, they can be searched and arrested.
"Our officers have been advising people of the restrictions from the weekend, just not the wording of the act," Burrows said of the legislation.