Saturday, June 26, 2010
These are four ways to describe the state of downtown Toronto as the city prepares for the Saturday afternoon arrival of leaders from the Group of 20 countries, along with the bankers, protesters, reporters and thousands of others that come with them.
Top officials will spend the weekend discussing vital issues related to the global economy, trade, bank regulations and other subjects at G-20 and G-8 summits in Toronto and Huntsville, a cottage-country town surrounded by lakes north of Toronto.
However, their presence has had the impact of transforming the metropolitan area into a G-20 security zone, where 14,000 police officers are empowered during the summit to arrest anyone too close to blockades located around the city. The Metro Toronto Convention Center, where leaders will meet, is fenced off. Thousands were told not to come to work on Thursday and Friday or over the weekend, in anticipation of traffic and protester mayhem.
"We're worried about traffic flows; getting in and out will be difficult," said Ann DeRabbie, spokeswoman of Scotiabank in Toronto, from her home. "We know of planned protests and planned demonstrations that could affect how people get in and out of our offices."
DeRabbie said Scotiabank has shut down six branches temporarily, in part because of security concerns and in part due to transportation difficulties in the coming days. She added that Scotiabank's Bay Street trading floor has been shut down partially, with traders operating from a remote location as a precaution. Other banks have made similar arrangements,