Monday, June 21, 2010

The G20 - Ground Level Woes?

G20Image by roch lasalle (farinn veiða) via Flickr
I've just returned from Toronto and luckily avoided the G20 that's happening starting this weekend. 
There hasn't been a lot of positive press for the G20 happening in Toronto, especially on the point where many are criticizing us for the large sums we've spent on the event to date.  Here's what The Economist had to say about it in their online feed:
LEADERS of the G8 group of rich countries gather in Muskoka, a Canadian holiday resort, for a two-day summit starting on Friday June 25th. The meeting overlaps with the two-day G20 summit that begins the next day in Toronto. Both get-togethers will give the opportunity to world leaders to discuss global financial regulation, reforming international financial institutions and responses to the crisis in the euro zone. The Canadian hosts have been criticised at home for the vast cost of the summit, in particular on the creation of a huge artificial lake for the media centre in a country with more real lakes than anywhere else in the world.
 What about the people that are actually in the middle of all this?   Residents of Toronto downtown that are discovering that the G20, which is supposed to boost the economy and bring in additional revenues, is transforming the downtown core into a tourist town, but ironically with no restaurants or services open?  Here are a couple things I heard at the ground level speaking to people around town.
  • Waiter was saying if he knew that his restaurant would be closing during the G20 period, he would have taken more shifts outside of the downtown core.
  • Person working at CIBC said that her company is transferring a lot of employees to either work from home or work from Mississauga - definitely increased expenses for the company since they have to pay for transport; also takes a toll on the employees, who now have to wake up extra early to get out of the downtown core
  • Restaurants have said that they will be closed for fear that they will incur damages to their property due to expected protests in the downtown area
  • Residents down by Queen's Quay, which is pretty much center of the G20 action (and road closures) are renting out their apartments for $1500 a day 
So what we have are companies that are cutting back/relocating their services and an influx of tourists that would need services.  Great.  Would like to see how it plays out in over the next couple weeks for those living in Toronto.

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