The Canadian Press
The Toronto G20 summit struck out big time with the city’s baseball team, prompting the Blue Jays to seek almost half a million dollars in compensation from the federal government.
The Jays filed a claim for $470,854 after the high-level, high-security meetings forced the team to shift a series of games to Philadelphia, records obtained by The Canadian Press show.
The move spoiled the keenly anticipated appearance of ace Philadelphia pitcher Roy Halladay, whom the Jays traded to the Phillies during the off-season.
Downtown Toronto became a high-security zone late last June when leaders of the G20 countries met for talks, disrupting many popular events at the height of tourist season.
“It was, to put it mildly, a huge inconvenience,” said Patrick Taylor, executive producer of Toronto’s jazz festival, which has claimed $235,155 in compensation.
The festival experienced lost ticket, food and beverage sales, and spent additional money on security as demonstrators descended on the city, Taylor said. A lucrative sponsorship arrangement with a large hotel also evaporated because the rooms were needed for G20 summit participants.
Porter Airlines, which operates from a downtown airport, topped the list of claimants, seeking more than $1,110,411, according to the records released under the Access to Information Act.
The owners of the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower requested $629,375, and the National Ballet of Canada applied for $355,265 because the summit put a crimp in audience numbers.
Not far away at the Zanzibar Tavern on Yonge St., lithe dancers of the more exotic variety apparently saw fewer patrons as well, prompting a claim of $10,832.
Leaders of the G8 countries gathered last year in cottage country near Huntsville, Ont., before joining other politicians for the G20 summit in Canada’s largest city.
Security for the major events involved more than 20,000 personnel from across the country and a budget of $930 million. Steel fencing transformed Toronto’s downtown core into something resembling an armed camp.
More than 1,100 people were taken into custody and there was extensive damage to shops and vehicles during G20 protests.
The Foreign Affairs Department says a total of 411 claims were submitted by businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals due to lost revenue and unforeseen expenditures.
Several claimants, including the Blue Jays, declined to discuss their compensation applications. “We will not be making public comment on this issue,” said Jays spokesman Jay Stenhouse.
Taylor said federal officials recently went over the jazz society’s application, filed last August. “They did a very intensive review of our claim.”
The festival has yet to hear anything further.
All claims are assessed by Audit Services Canada to ensure they meet compensation criteria.
Foreign Affairs said it expected to complete work on 214 of the 411 files by late this week. “More files are being completed daily and payments are being processed to those eligible.”
The department declined to discuss the amount paid out to date. However, documents tabled in Parliament earlier this year said the total amount claimed to date was $10,656,869.
The University of Toronto‘s claim of $798,111 was recently turned down because “insufficient evidence was provided” to justify the application, says a federal letter provided to The Canadian Press by the university.
Judith Wolfson, the university’s vice-president for media relations, said the school basically had to shut down when the Ontario legislature — smack in the middle of the university’s campus — became the official G20 protest area.
“We deemed it to be unsafe for our students and faculty and staff,” Wolfson said.
It meant moving students out of residence and cancelling events, resulting in a “very significant cost.”
“We don’t have extra funds, and so we would have hoped that the federal government would have compensated us for something that was beyond our control.”