Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

The Indy fence: Stronger, shorter and a whole lot cheaper

You may not have noticed it, but the steel-and-concrete barrier around the G20 security perimeter wasn't the only big fence erected in Toronto over the past few weeks.

A few kilometres to the west, workers have been quietly putting up other barriers since late May to accommodate the Honda Indy Toronto race this weekend, which will see 165 cars whipping around a nearly three-kilometre-long course at the Exhibition Grounds.

The fence that keeps cars on the track and spectators in the stands will be less expensive and much less disruptive for traffic than the one that kept protesters out during the summit. And the Indy fence, which has to be able to withstand the force of cars flying at 270 kilometres per hour, is stronger than its protester-proof counterpart, organizers of the race say.

Story continues below advertisement

"Ours is more substantial, for sure. Theirs was designed to keep people out, ours in designed to keep cars in," said Charlie Johnstone, vice-president and general manager of the Indy.

While Indy officials wouldn't disclose exactly how much their fence will cost this year, they did give an estimate for the cost of replacing it next year: about $1.5-million. The federal government, meanwhile, revealed this week that the price tag for the security fence had grown to $9.4-million (the original tender estimated it would be $4-million).

"As the summit drew near and the security plan became more precisely developed, the RCMP determined that a number of changes were required, for instance for better traffic flow, lighting and ease of dismantling and removal of the fence," Natalie Pennefather, a public relations official with Public Works Canada, wrote in an e-mail.

The Indy does, however, have one thing in common with its anarchist-thwarting counterpart: Those who want to get inside will have to submit to arbitrary bag searches. Organizers, however, are more concerned with finding folding lawn chairs and drink coolers than machetes or gas masks.

The art of fencing:

G20: 800-kilogram concrete barriers anchoring the fence

Indy course: 3,175-kilogram concrete barriers anchoring the fence

Story continues below advertisement

G20: Just shy of 10 kilometres of three-metre-high fence, a mix of chain link and expanded metal (a material that makes it much harder to climb), held together by 12 kilometres of metal tubing and 100,000 drilled bolts. Indy course: 3.3 kilometres of three-metre-high chain link debris fence, held together by three strands of steel cable, plus 5.8 kilometres of 1.8-metre-high spectator fence. About nine kilometres of fence total.

G20: Construction of the fence started June 7. The gates were closed and locked on June 25. Workers began dismantling it in the early morning hours of June 28 and finished last Tuesday, July 7.

Indy course: Fence-building began in the last week of May so as not to interfere with the use of the Direct Energy Centre as a media facility during the G20. Construction will be completed Wednesday, when workers build the stretch blocking Lake Shore. The whole thing will be dismantled by July 31.

G20: Shut down parts of six streets, including Front Street West and University Avenue, for two days, and caused the rerouting of traffic for a week.

Indy course: Fence will close Lake Shore Boulevard between Strachan Avenue and British Columbia Drive from Wednesday at 9 p.m. to late Sunday evening.

G20: Twenty world leaders and assorted delegates, some arriving by private jet, others on scheduled flights.

Story continues below advertisement

Indy course: 165 cars, each arriving on a separate transport truck beginning on Wednesday.

G20: Items confiscated by police included baseball bats, crowbars and bear spray.

Indy course: Security is concerned with people bringing outside drinks or setting up their personal lawn chairs and inconveniencing other spectators.

G20: The Special Investigations Unit is looking into five serious injuries sustained by civilians during the summit.

Indy course: No one was injured last year.

The pros make it look easy but open-wheel racing is more agony than ecstasy, reports Peter Cheney

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.