*Upscale Huntsville resort readies for G8 summit
*Summit security bill coming in close to C$1 billion
*Three-metre fence to block off Toronto's core
By Pav Jordan
HUNTSVILLE, Ontario, June 2 Contingency Plan 32
would remove any conceivable projectile, even decorative rocks,
from the streets of Huntsville, Ontario, a posh lake-district
resort town where Canada will host the G8 summit of world
leaders later this month.
"The security folks will just phone us and say 'Plan 32,
roll, get rid of all that stuff', because the risk assessment
has gone up, we know somebody's coming that could be a
problem," Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty told Reuters from
offices overlooking pleasure boats and bronzed vacationers.
It's a plan Doughty hopes will never be needed, but also
one that he admits must be ready as his sedate town braces for
anti-globalization protesters determined to disrupt the meeting
of the leaders of the rich industrialized world.
Set in the heart of a lake district called Muskoka, a name
so associated with leisure that Canada names wooden lounge
chairs after it, Huntsville hosts the Group of Eight summit on
The leaders from United States, Canada, France, Britain,
Russia, Germany, Italy and Japan, then head to Toronto, a
two-hour drive south of Muskoka, for two more days of talks at
a Group of 20 summit of industrialized nations and important
emerging economies, including China and India.
The summit agendas will focus on the financial crisis that
has torn across the globe. As in past summits, the meetings may
be a perfect forum for international environmental and
The two summits will cost Canada's Conservative government
close to C$1 billion ($960 million) for security alone,
ruffling the feathers of groups -- and opposition parties --
who see that as overspending at a time of austerity.
There will be two separate security staffs, one housed in a
specially built compound near Huntsville's Deerhurst Resort,
where the G8 leaders will meet.
The pricey lakeside resort is flanked by a pristine golf
course, tennis courts, riding stables and nature trails.
In Toronto, Canada's largest city, part of the financial
core will be closed off behind 3-metre (10-foot) fences to
prevent access, while an outer security zone will also be
closed to protest groups.
"There's a risk. There's always a risk there is going to be
a mob scene, or a demonstration is going to get out of hand,"
Doughty said, adding he's been given no cause for concern yet.
Groups have advised authorities of their intention to
demonstrate, and while most promise peaceful protests only,
Canadians got a taste late last month of how far some activists
might go to get attention with the firebombing of a branch of
Canada's largest bank, the Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) in
Ottawa, the nation's capital.
In Muskoka, kilometers of high, steel fences now cut across
green foliage like knives.
On the floor of an old rock quarry a few miles from
Deerhurst, a makeshift town has sprung up in the shape of
hundreds of shiny mobile homes surrounding a massive white
tent: the security barracks for the G8 event.
The area is cordoned off and tucked at the end of a road
piercing lush woodland. Locals say it will house 5,000 security
personnel. Authorities declined comment.
On Main Street in Huntsville, police have told owners of
shops with big glass storefronts to take precautions.
"We were told to remove our real-fur teddy bears from the
display in order not to be targeted by the animal rights
activists," said Linn Lussier, clerk at a store selling
Canadian arts and crafts on the high street.
Residents, who met with government officials a year and a
half ago in town hall meetings, say they are not afraid.
"People are talking about protesters, but I don't think
anybody is worried," said Chris Boothby, 20, a psychology
student working at a Huntsville restaurant for the summer.
Residents say the summit brought an economic boom to the
town at a time when the rest of Canada was in recession.
Separate from security spending, Canada spent C$40 million
on infrastructure, including the legacy G8 Summit Center that
gives Huntsville a new ice hockey arena and a environmental
research facility for the University of Waterloo.
In the end, Mayor Doughty doubts contingency plan No. 32
will ever be invoked.
"I think the day the G20 moved to Toronto a fair amount of
our risk went with it," he said.
Huntsville is about 220 kilometers (140 miles) northeast of
the Toronto and 350 km northwest of the capital Ottawa.
(Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Janet Guttsman and Peter