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Brendan Kennedy, Jesse McLean, The Toronto Star
May 18, 2010
Residents at University and Wellington will need clearance to get home
Getting home will become a lot more complicated for residents of 33 University Ave.
The 28-storey financial district condominium is the only residential building slated to be stuck inside a fenced security perimeter when the G20 summit touches down in Toronto next month.
The only way in and out will be through police checkpoints.
“It’s definitely an inconvenience,” said Duyen Briggs, who lives at The Empire Plaza at University Ave. and Wellington St. “I guess that week I’ll feel like I’m going to be blocked inside my house for a while.”
As security details for the G20 summit continue to trickle out, downtown residents and businesses are beginning to understand how their lives will be affected.
Empire Plaza residents discovered over the weekend their homes will be enclosed within a security fence expected to go up about two weeks before the summit opens at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on June 26.
Residents will have to apply for advance security clearance to receive a special ID card to gain express access to their building.
The general public will be allowed to enter the fenced-in area – the borders of which haven’t yet been disclosed – but will be subject to on-the-spot security checks by police and will have to explain why they need to enter the area.
Councillor Adam Vaughan, whose ward will be home to the summit, said anyone living or working behind the fence should preregister with police to receive a swipe card with photo ID to bypass the public line, where the queue for admission could be several hours long.
Todd Reid, an Empire Plaza resident, said he will get the accreditation if it means skipping the long lines.
“If the wait’s only five or 10 minutes, I can deal with that,” he said. “It’s hard to say. We’re pretty much still in the dark.”
The building’s property manager said there are still many unanswered questions, and what he does know, he’s had to piece together from different sources.
“We’ve somewhat been left to fend for ourselves to try to get as much information as we can,” said Wes Posthumus, president of Post Real Property Inc.
“There hasn’t been one decisive document that says, ‘Hey, this is what it’s going to be like, this is what it’s going to look like, this is what you’re going to be subject to during that 10-day or whatever period of time.”
Among the many questions residents have is how – or whether – they’ll be able to access the underground parking garages.
While the Empire Plaza is currently the only residential building behind the fence, security plans can change and more buildings could be affected, Vaughan said.
“We’ve been working very hard to make sure that the residents of our ward have as much freedom during the G20 as possible,” he said.
Police say three security zones will surround the summit:
- A heavily restricted “red zone” will include the convention centre and nearby hotels. Only summit attendees and venue employees will be able to get in.
- The fenced security perimeter, which includes The Empire Plaza and contains 15,000 to 30,000 residents and workers who will be vetted by police at checkpoints.
- A traffic zone will comprise the area from Yonge St. to Spadina Ave. and King St. to Lake Ontario. Pedestrians will be able to come and go, but drivers will be met by officers at most major intersections who will ask them where they’re going and what they’re doing there.
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