Toronto G20 meeting will disrupt city life

Toronto police say there will be two fences cordoning off large areas of the city during the G20 summit in late June.

People who live and work in downtown Toronto have been given a glimpse of how their lives will be disrupted by the G20 summit.

The summit meeting will be held at the Metro Convention Centre on the weekend of June 26-27, but already people who live downtown are concerned about the security blanket that will be thrown over their neighbourhood.

At a town hall meeting on Thursday evening residents and business owners who will be affected by the summit were given a look at the security that will be in place. 

Condo owner Brent Galardo said his concern is that "protesters are going to come as close to the conference as possible.  So where are they going to be stopped?"

Another resident worried that tear gas might be used.

Toronto Police Const. George Tucker, a member of the G20 security team, said he hopes that won't happen.

"Never in the history of the Toronto Police Service have they dispersed tear gas in the city," said Tucker.

As for how close the protesters will get, the answer appears to be — not very.

Police say there will be two fenced areas: an outside fence that will close off a large section of the downtown and an inner fence that will control access to hotels and the convention centre.

The location of the outer fence will not be confirmed until a few weeks before the summit.

People wanting to get in and out of the area will have to show identification to get through the police cordon — and the fencing will begin going up about two weeks in advance.

Those who live and work inside that area will be given a special permit to allow them to pass through an express line.

"Pedestrian and vehicular traffic will continue through those fences unless something significant arises in which case they could be closed," said Tucker. "And the length of time they'd have to close would have to be determined by the threat."

Activists planning to demonstrate at the meeting are concerned.  Security officials have designated Trinity Bellwoods Park as the official protest site but being several kilometres from the summit site has some wondering if their protests will have the desired effect.

"It's a bit of an affront to democracy to say 'You're allowed to protest. You're allowed to be on the streets. Here's your cage. You can go over there.'  We expect that there's actually going to be more people on the streets outside of that area," said Sid Lacombe of the Canadian Peace Alliance.