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October 20th, 2009:

Can Huntsville handle the G-20? Or should it migrate south?

This has been stickin’ in my craw for a while now. How can a small town, with limited accommodation facilities, handle the throngs that are sure to descend on the bucolic town of Huntsville next summer?

I grew up not far from Huntsville so know the area very well. There are a few hotels and motels – in addition to the primo facility – Deerhurst – that the leaders and their entourages will be meeting and bedding down at during the summit. And that is fine and dandy, I guess. I mean, the organizers of this massive event (and yes, it will be the most massive happening ever seen near the shores of Lake Vernon) must have assessed the capacity of the town to handle of these extra folks who will be by for a spell, right?

But think about it. In addition to Obama, Sarkozy. Stevo, etc., the town can expect some of the following to come calling:

  • Aides and staff that don’t rate the stay at Deerhurst – 20 nations of them
  • Media from all over the world. CNN alone will probably send at least 20 or 30!
  • War protesters, seal protesters, tar sand protesters, Tamil rights protesters, anti-abortion protesters, pro-choice protesters, anti-gun protesters, NRA morons, anarchists, nihilists, communists, Quebec separatists… and maybe even Danny Williams
  • Gawkers and folks who are just a little interested in the goings-ons…
  • Regular tourist types who get way-laid at check points on Highway 11 on their way to Algonquin Park

There’s more:

  • What about the stress on the town’s drinking water and waste water treatment plants? Do they have the capacity to handle this – even for a few days?
  • What about emergency services? If Donnie has a heart attack at the Zellers, will he get an ambulance in time to save him? Will the emergency vehicles be thwarted by road closures?
  • How is everyone outside the resort going to find food? Sure, there are some nice burger spots, but we’re talking way more than the peak of the tourist season, folks.

And that’s all just off the top of my head.

Main point here: don’t at all be surprised if the geniuses who thought of Huntsville as the ideal town in a CPC riding to host this hootenanny to have some second thoughts. And don’t be surprised if the Summit planners quietly and incrementally begin to relocate this thing to a locale further to the south – like Barrie or Toronto. Some of the locals are already talking about this possibility and rumours are beginning to circulate at the local Timmies.

Stay tuned, and if it comes to pass, you heard it here first.