#G20 summit #security to be ‘massive’ ~ but is anyone really surprised?

Jennifer Yang Staff Reporter Access to the innermost security zone during the G20 weekend will be controlled by a 3-metre-high fence and five levels of security screening, a summit official said Tuesday. These were among the few details shared with more than 100 property managers and company representatives who attended Tuesday morning’s “G20 summit preparedness workshop,” hosted by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA). BOMA represents more than 700 commercial real estate companies in the GTA, and workshop attendees included everyone from Ryerson University representatives to financial district property managers, all anxious to know how they can prepare for June 26 and 27, when the world descends upon their neighbourhood. Speaking at the workshop was Const. Ed Boltuc, a Toronto police officer and community liaison with the Integrated Security Unit, the RCMP-led team tasked with overseeing security for the back-to-back G8 and G20 summits. Security efforts are already promising to be bigger than anything Canada has seen before, and in Toronto, many residents and businesses have expressed concern. On Tuesday, Boltuc reassured workshop participants that G20 organizers are striving to minimize the summit’s footprint. But when describing the scale of the impending security efforts, Boltuc didn’t mince words. “The Olympics that you saw recently in Vancouver was actually the largest security event ever to take place here in Canada. The G20/G8 surpasses that completely,” Boltuc said. “There’s going to be a massive — absolutely massive — presence of police and security on the ground like you’ve never seen before.” Boltuc explained that two fenced security perimeters will encircle the summit site, which is the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front St. W. Exact security boundaries still aren’t being disclosed — and probably won’t be until about two weeks prior to the summit — but Boltuc did say RCMP will oversee the innermost layer, which will wrap tightly around the convention centre and nearby hotels housing visiting heads of state. This inner security zone will be strictly controlled during the summit weekend and blocked off with an “unscalable” fence rising at least 3 metres, Boltuc said. Anyone requiring access will have to pass a “five-tier system of security,” he added. The outer layer will be protected by Toronto police, Boltuc said. While speculation had placed the boundaries at Queen St. to the north, Yonge St. to the east, Lake Shore Blvd. W. to the south and Spadina Ave. to the west, Boltuc said the area won’t be quite that large. Fences will start going up about two weeks before the summit, Boltuc said, although ISU officials hope to keep the gates open as long as possible. Barring extenuating circumstances, the outer security should be accessible to vehicles and pedestrians up until the “11th hour,” which is to say sometime in the evening of June 25, he said. But once the gates slam shut, workers and residents requiring access to the outer security zone will need to be registered or accredited. The process for doing that was still being finalized as of Tuesday, but the summit office will probably begin accrediting people in early April, Boltuc said. “Registration may be as simple as giving your name, a place you work and a place you live,” he said, adding that accredited individuals will probably be given a card which they’ll show at the gates along with photo ID. Accreditation will be voluntary but anyone choosing to forgo the process will face “delays” at the gates, Boltuc said. Property managers or businesses anxious to know whether they fall within the perimeter can also call the summit office, he added, although boundary lines will not be disclosed. Boltuc said Union Station won’t be shut down during the summit weekend, although it’s likely foot traffic will be diverted. Also remaining open will be the Rogers Centre, which is hosting ex-Blue Jay Roy Halladay’s highly anticipated return to Toronto, and the Air Canada Centre, which will be the concert venue for violinist André Rieu’s “Celebration of Music Tour” on June 26. The Gardiner Expressway will also remain open, Boltuc said, but commuters can expect traffic delays as motorcades travel from Pearson International Airport to the convention centre area. While Boltuc played down rumours that there could be as many as 30 motorcades on June 26, he said security officials will probably maintain about a kilometer of buffer space around VIP vehicles as they make their way down the highway. Boltuc emphasized that security details are still in flux — and some details may never be released for security reasons — but he assured BOMA members that information would be communicated in a timely way through various channels, including community meetings and email. Twitter will also be used to disseminate information, including details on motorcade departure and arrival times, he said.

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