The scorched front of Steve’s Music Store; June 27, 2010. Photo by Kevin Steele from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
When protesters set fire to a police cruiser on Queen West during the G20 summit in Toronto last year, the iconic black-and-yellow sign above Steve’s Music Store melted in the heat. The windows cracked and buckled, and the building’s stucco began to peel.
Almost a year later, Steve’s has replaced the sign. But manager Kevin Parker says the store is still out tens of thousands of dollars for the lost business and costly repairs.
“All that came out of pocket,” he said. “We haven’t been compensated for anything yet.”
In the aftermath of the protests, hundreds of local businesses submitted claims for compensation from the federal government—in Steve’s case, for $80,000, an amount that includes the physical damages and weeks of diminished business before and after the protests themselves.
When the claim came back several months ago, though, the government offered Steve’s only $22,000, barely a quarter of what the store asked for. Steve’s has not accepted the offer, Parker told us, opting to continue what he called the “long, difficult, expensive process” of compensation.
That may have been a smart move. On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird agreed during Question Period to review complaints about the compensation process, including the slow pace and paltry amounts of many offers.
To date, 169 of the 371 claims have been accepted, though like Steve’s, sometimes for much lower amounts that what owners had initially sought.
Some businesses have taken what they could get. Allen Cooper, the owner of Zanzibar Tavern, accepted a compensation offer for two days of lost business, he said. But that didn’t cover the club’s broken windows—according to an employee at the American Apparel across the street, a woman smashed them in with a baseball bat during the protests—and the damage to the elaborate marquee, from which protesters ripped the letters one by one.
“The government compensated zilch for physical damages,” Cooper told us, “which was ridiculous in my view.”
To date, the federal government has paid out less than $2 million in compensation. “They’ve got a lot of money to throw around,” Parker said. “They might as well throw some of it this way.”
Did the federal government make a mistake holding the G20 in Toronto, then? Cooper doesn’t think so. He supports efforts to promote Toronto, he said, and doesn’t fault the government for hosting the G20 in Toronto any more than he blames the National Hockey League for last week’s Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver.
“There’s always a bad element out there that’s going to screw with these kinds of things,” he said.
Parker doesn’t blame the summit’s organizers either, he said, though he’s a bit more wary about the future. “Should they hold another one?” he asked. “Probably not.”
For complete G20 retrospective coverage, go to One Year Later.