SEAN COLE: I’m standing in the very pastoral Trinity Bellwoods Park, north and west of downtown Toronto, where the G20 summit is gonna be. This is where they were going to have a “designated speech area” for protesters, a sort of protest zone. They’re no longer going to have it here, because the people who live and work near the park protested.
VALERIE BARRIAULT: Yes, I joined a group on Facebook that was against it.
COLE: Did you really?
BARRIAULT: Yeah I did. I did.
Valerie Barriault lives on Queen Street West, right at the edge of the park. She’s on maternity leave from her job at Royal Bank of Canada, had a baby strapped to her front when I talked to her.
BARRIAULT: This is a family-orientated park, as you can see, and I just couldn’t imagine tear gas being used in the park. It was just the idea that I had in the back of my mind.
Along with more mundane concerns, like litter and shrub destruction. And besides, said people like Valerie Barriault, there are more suitable parts of the city where people’s homes won’t be affected.
DAVID GINSBERG: Not just homes but businesses, too. And I’m affected by both.
David Ginsberg lives on the north side of the park, but he also owns White Squirrel Coffee Shop here on Queen Street. An association representing more than 300 businesses like his worried that protesters might drive away customers and possibly break stuff. David went to a planning meeting.
GINSBERG: The cop that was there was saying, “Oh, it could be 20,000 people,” and we’re like well, you know, no.
Meaghan Gray with the Toronto Police G20 Planning Team says her unit finally gave in to the fervor.
MEAGHAN GRAY: I don’t know if I would say fervor.
OK, it wasn’t a fervor.
GRAY: I think you had local area residents and businesses that were quite concerned about having this in their neighborhood park and we took that into consideration.
And moved the protest zone to another park that’s not as residential. Meaghan Gray says it’ll be outfitted with cameras and microphones broadcasting the protests into the convention hall.
Thing is, I also went to a press conference of actual protesters. They listed a bunch of rallies they had planned for the week of the G20. None of them were located at the protest zone.
In Toronto, I’m Sean Cole for Marketplace.
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