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Toronto councillor calls on Ottawa to pick up tab for G20 property damage

Military helicopters fly, April 20, 2010, in and out of a DZ right beside the doors of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in preparation for the June 26/27 meetings of the G20 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Norm Betts/Special to the Globe and Mail

The federal government won't compensate property owners in downtown Toronto for damage sustained during next month's G20 summit.

A May 21 e-mail from a G20 Foreign Affairs liaison says that while businesses can apply for ex-gratia compensation "related to financial loss as a result of the extraordinary security measures" associated with the summit, "if there are losses or damages caused by third parties, including vandalism, payment will not be provided. … These types of damages are insurable under normal insurance coverage."

The federal government is spending close to $1-billion on summit security, much of it going to protect delegates and maintain order in Toronto's densely populated downtown core.

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That figure dwarfs the amount spent on security for previous summits - Ottawa has attributed that discrepancy to the fact that this will be the first double-header G8 and G20 summit.

"The federal government has reneged on what we thought was a commitment to pay for damage done during the G20. So store owners, condominiums, private homeowners, all within the private security zone - if their windows are broken or their cars are damaged or any other property damaged as a result of protests or God knows what, the federal government has said they won't compensate people," Mr. Vaughan said.

The area that will be closed off and heavily policed during the summit falls within Mr. Vaughan's downtown Trinity-Spadina ward. Toronto has been pressuring Ottawa to issue the city a bond committing the federal government to compensating the city and private property owners for any costs related to the G20 summit.

Janice Solomon, head of the Entertainment District Business Improvement Area - which includes 1,800 businesses in and around the summit's high-security zone - said she's still waiting to hear exactly what businesses will be compensated for, and how they can get that payment.

The summit is expected to shut down much of the downtown core surrounding the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Ms. Solomon said any business owners wanting to recoup costs due to lost revenue will have to provide revenue statements from the same dates several years previous to prove that there has been a demonstrable drop as a result of the G20.

Ms. Solomon added that she was under the impression there was a fund being set up to compensate businesses for property damage during the G20 meetings, but wasn't sure if it was to be run by the city or the federal government.

In the meantime, "I think that everyone is anticipating to just be extra vigilant," she said.

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"We're going to be putting an e-mail out in the next week or so to just remind people to check around their properties, check there's nothing that's loose and available that could be used if someone wanted to be disruptive."

Ottawa has said it is committed to covering those costs based on a "formula" it hasn't yet elucidated publicly.

The May 21 e-mail says Ottawa won't cover personal injuries, emotional distress, damage caused by third parties, private protection measures or "amounts that can be paid out by means of another instrument."

"This is absolutely unacceptable," Mr. Vaughan said. "They're bringing this party to town. They know what accompanies this sort of event. And for them to walk away from small businesses after they've spent a billion dollars on themselves is an absolute disgrace."

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