Update (2010/06/08): Security isn’t the only thing ‘conservatives’ have been spending money on in and around Huntsville, as the Toronto Star reports. “New sidewalks, trees, gazebos, paved roads, fresh coats of paint, gardens and all manner of buffing and polishing, all compliments of federal largesse, much of it for tiny towns well off the beaten track” are accompanied by signs proclaiming the ample pork barrel investments being made in central Ontario. Nothing to do with the G8, of course – like Tony Clement’s steamboat, most of these projects will complete well after the summit.
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Linda Nguyen, Canwest News
June 7, 2010
The integrated security unit tried to win over Huntsville residents on Sunday during a demonstration of what security measures to expect when world leaders arrive in three weeks for the G8 summit, essentially putting the Ontario cottage country town of 19,000 under lockdown.
The unit – comprised of RCMP officers, Ontario Provincial Police, Peel Regional Police, and the Canadian Forces – held the show and tell at the newly built $21-million Canada Summit Centre near downtown Huntsville.
It’s the same location where meetings between dignitaries will be held on June 25-26; the G20 summit is scheduled June 26-27 in downtown Toronto.
U.S. President Barack Obama, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be among the dignitaries meeting to discuss economic policy and maternal health.
Industry Minister Tony Clement was also in attendance on Sunday to reassure residents that the inconveniences during the summit will be worth it because Huntsville will be showcased to the world.
Security costs for the summits in Huntsville and Toronto will be the largest amount paid in Canadian history. The federal government has pegged the costs at nearly $1-billion.
Mr. Clement said the government must pay this price to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
“Security officials have told me that the costs associated with these summits are not optional,” he told a group of nearly 300 residents. [Ed. Note: Does that include the steamboat?]
Residents were told that there will be a 24-hour police presence in downtown Huntsville, beginning two days prior to the summit.
Parking will be eliminated in most high-traffic areas and all residents living in the designated security zone will have to go through multiple checkpoints, and most likely will have to be escorted by police to their homes during these days.
Yesterday, the security unit showed off a cache of tools that will be at their disposal – everything from an Ontario police canine unit to a specialized motorcycle brigade – to media and hundreds of Huntsville residents eager for a glimpse of what will come to town. Chief Supt. Alphonse MacNeil, head of the unit, said the demonstration was to show residents that they don’t have to be alarmed.
“We are going to have people in uniform, and we want them [the community] to see that in advance and know that it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong, that’s just the way we are dressed for the event,” said Chief Supt. MacNeil. Officials said residents shouldn’t think twice when they see soldiers lurking in the woods surrounding the posh Deerhurst Resort or black military helicopters flying overhead during these days.
Chief Supt. MacNeil, who also heads security operations at the G20 summit in downtown Toronto from June 26-27, said that planning to host world leaders at both sites has been a challenge.
“It’s a different landscape and that’s exactly what it is. One is a very urban environment and the second is a very rural environment,” he said.
Huntsville is about 300 kilometres north of Toronto.
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