For all of the discussion about the billion dollar price tag for hosting the G8-G20, seeing the facilities and security up close, it’s no wonder the cost is as much as it is.
You can go around in circles debating the merits of police vs protestors (the protestors want more money for social issues and less for police but more police are necessary because of the protests), the reality is that in a post-911 world, any gathering of this nature is going to cost major dollars.
The amount of planning for an event this size, coordinating the delegations, global planning meetings for government officals, all adds to the bill. (Should we even have conventions of this size? At this stage, let’s wait to see what comes from this weekend and judge it on it’s own merits.)
At Deerhurst itself, I witnessed first hand the level 5 security zone, as we were transported by bus into what is in effect a military compound. The resort is surrounded by fencing, patrolled by a multitude of RCMP and miltary police, on land, water and in the sky with various helicopter patrols. ( I was somewhat disappointed not to see a CF18 jet fly overhead, perhaps tomorrow).
It was impressive though to see a delegation fly in late in the evening, a contingent of 4 helicopters. Speaking with other members of the media who had attended previous G8′s and G20, this was par-for-the-course.
What was surprising and frustrating was how controlled the media actually is at these events, beholden to press releases and pool-feeds of audio and video. Veteran reporters though say it’s a necessary evil as many of the meetings and press briefings for the assorted countries happen concurrently, and staying in the media centre allows reporters to multi-task.
It will be interesting to see how much access we are actually afforded at Deerhurst and later this weekend, the Metro Convention Centre.