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An RCMP officer patrols outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Friday June 25, 2010. (FRANK GUNN/Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)
An RCMP officer patrols outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Friday June 25, 2010. (FRANK GUNN/Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Around the fortress, life slows Add to ...

Along the security fence, police officers, summit delegates and picture-snapping tourists took in the metal fortress with not a protester in sight.

Citysightseeing Toronto tourism representative Barbara Duszkiewicz's job is to hand out maps and offer directions to visitors to the city, but her post at Front and Yonge Streets was much quieter than usual all morning, she said. The security perimeter snakes around the Rogers Centre, CN Tower and other parts of the downtown, measuring about 3.5 kilometres.

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Most tourists know about the G20, but a few have been surprised by the fences and police presence around some of the city's most popular attractions, she said. Ms. Duszkiewicz didn't know if someone would be continue to stationed at the corner this weekend.

"It really just depends on how today goes," she said.

Dianne and Dereck Thornburn planned their week-long vacation to Toronto a year ago, before Toronto was announced as the new host of the G20.

"About 10 days ago we realized we'd be here during the summit," Mrs. Thornburn said near Simcoe and Bremner Streets, while her husband took some pictures of the CN Tower. "It's quieter than we expected."

Patios and restaurants on Front Street typically packed at lunch were empty Friday around noon, with wait staff and cooks sitting in front of big-screen TVs watching a World Cup game instead. An employee at East Side Mario's at Front and Simcoe Streets said she wasn't sure if they would be open Saturday while several other restaurants were closed. Three servers and a cook at Casey's on Yonge Street chatted at the bar about how the serving staff had been whittled down from to three from 15.

"I have nothing against the G20 summit, but we're not benefiting from this," said Anoush Middle Eastern Cuisine manager Nellie, who declined to give her last name. Heaping piles of rice and shawarma toppings sat untouched in front of her on the counter. Most of the restaurant's lunch crowd, at Front and Blue Jays Way, comes from nearby office workers, who for the most part stayed home today, she said. "It's really hurt us."

And as the downtown goes quiet, Torontonian cab drivers aren't pleased: People have been leaving town or heading for the city's outer reaches in droves - especially those who have a long weekend, courtesy of the G20. A slow couple of days for downtown cab fares hits especially hard on a weekend, says cab driver Ali Salman Gul. He says he's seen plenty of people heading out of Toronto, but few needing cab rides in.

"Normally it's $150, $200 [a day]-- easy. Now, it's survival."

With files from Anna Mehler Paperny



<iframe width="600" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103335406819895550235.000489a0f860343197821&ll=43.643622,-79.385233&spn=0.010869,0.025749&z=15&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small>View <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103335406819895550235.000489a0f860343197821&ll=43.643622,-79.385233&spn=0.010869,0.025749&z=15&source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">G8/G20 in Toronto: Friday, June 25</a> in a larger map</small>


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