Estimated costs: Give and take
In a recent release, Tourism Toronto estimates that the G20 summit is expected to generate $53 million in direct spending (on hotels, food, and entertainment by delegates. That figure does not include money going to the convention centres, audio/visual and transportation companies, and other businesses that will benefit from the event.
Nevertheless, many banks, small businesses, and cultural institutions have either chosen or been asked to close. For example, food vendors have been pushed out of the downtown core, but, because of permit restrictions, will not be able to move their business elsewhere.
Though most are tight-lipped about expected revenue losses, theatre company Mirvish Productions, which has opted to close for the weekend, says it will lose $2 million.
Precedents: Pittsburgh’s downtown area was left almost vacant when it hosted last year’s G20 summit in September. Many businesses in the area surrounding the convention centre where the summit was held, including bank branches, were closed, and employees were asked to either work from home or at contingency sites.
Though demonstrations were largely peaceful, a handful of minor incidents involving bricks and storefront windows were reported.
Quick Facts: Thirty-six bank branches, including the RBC, CIBC, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank, and Bank of Montreal have asked their employees either to relocate to contingency locations or work from home in the days leading up to the summit, citing the possibility that banks may become targets of violence.
Bank closures could have a brutal effect on Toronto’s real estate market, for which the last Friday in June is typically the busiest for closings.
Businesses have been given some incentive to stay open by an [ex-gratia government program](http://g20.gc.ca/important-notices/exgratia/) that offers compensation for lost revenue. Those who close their doors are ineligible for the program.
Several institutions closing their premises during the summit are located beyond the traffic perimeter but are cheek to cheek with anticipated high-traffic areas. These include the [University of Toronto](http://learn.utoronto.ca/news/elpG20notice.htm), which is steps from the designated protest area, the [Ontario College of Art and Design](http://www.ocad.ca/misc_pages/g20_summit_updates.htm), and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Meanwhile, the Royal Ontario Museum and Ryerson University, located just steps from the designated protest area and the traffic perimeter respectively, will remain open. The TD Toronto Jazz Festival, which begins on June 25, plans to conduct [business as usual](http://www.jazz.fm/content/view/3380/63/). Sales have apparently not been affected by the G20.
“The real question is does the G20 belong in the heart of our city?
When life in the city is shut down from the University of Toronto to the AGO, from pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market to the Mirvish theatres, exactly what are we trying to prove and to whom?
What is the so-called branding opportunity when the actual city is entirely out of bounds and there is zero interaction between our “guests” and our citizens?
Maybe Toronto will be remembered as the last of these circuses where it was conclusively proven that there is a radical misfit between these itinerant “fortresses” and the heart of a city, any city.” Ken Greenberg