View Full Version : U.S. issues G20 travel alert for Toronto

06-17-2010, 05:36 PM

By Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
TORONTO - Protests expected at the G20 summit can quickly turn violent, so it's best to stay away from them in fact, avoid the Toronto downtown core altogether, the U.S. warned its citizens Thursday.

The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Americans who live in Toronto or plan to visit the city before or during the June 26-27 summit of world leaders.

"Previous G20 summits have drawn large numbers of protesters and activists, and a number of groups have announced plans to demonstrate throughout downtown Toronto," the advisory says.

"Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable. You should avoid them if at all possible."

Because of security concerns and significant travel disruptions in and around the security perimeter, the state department is suggesting people avoid the area.

"U.S. citizens should avoid travelling in or through downtown Toronto during the summit, if possible."

Small businesses near the summit site will already be taking a hit, said Toronto New Democrat MP Olivia Chow, and this advisory won't help matters.

"This is the height of the tourism season and losing these Americans is going to be a big problem," she said.

"The Conservative government said they would not compensate (for) any property damages.

"They are basically telling the businesses in Toronto to go jump in that fake lake."

Not too many tourists are expected to be roaming around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre where the summit is being held anyway, so the travel alert may be moot, said John Karastamatis, the director of communications for Mirvish Productions.

Performances of the musicals "Rock of Ages" and "Mamma Mia!" have been cancelled, the Blue Jays game was moved from Toronto and some downtown businesses are bracing for customers to stay away that weekend.

"The travel advisory is a bit ironic," Karastamatis said.

"If you wanted to come to Toronto next week from out of town it's very difficult to do so... The downtown core may be fairly empty during that time. There won't be much for people to see or do."

The streets immediately surrounding the summit meetings will be restricted, but outside that Toronto is going to continue being the vibrant city it always is, said Andrew Weir of Tourism Toronto.

"People are moving around the city, people are enjoying the city and I don't expect next weekend will be any different," he said.

"Certainly the immediate core around where the summit's taking place is going to be a different story but this is a big city and we've closed streets before."

That weekend is the opening of Pride Week, the annual festival celebrating the gay community, though the main event a massive parade was moved to the following weekend. The TD Toronto Jazz Festival starts June 25, the Royal Ontario Museum is opening a new exhibit and bars all around the city will be abuzz with World Cup games, Weir said.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said he's not concerned about the travel alert, noting it and the summit last just a few days.

"The only issue I'd be concerned about if I was a tourist is hotel space," McGuinty said.

Protesters have said they're planning a massive but peaceful rally and march on June 26. Washington said the travel alert expires June 28.

The travel alert does not extend to the picturesque cottage country town of Huntsville, Ont., which is hosting the G8 summit from June 25-26.

"Because of limited hotel space and Huntsville's location three hours away from Toronto, the department does not expect significant protest activity in the Huntsville area," the travel warning said.

06-18-2010, 10:07 PM
Now you know your country done fucked up badly when you get a warning not to travel to Canada....