OTTAWA - Mayors of Canada's big cities aren't exactly beating down the door to host the next international summit, after seeing the havoc in Toronto over the weekend.

Some mayors suggest events like the G8 and G20 summits should never again be held in the downtown core of a city.

Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr, chairman of the big-city mayors caucus said world leaders need to rethink the venues for their annual gatherings, which have become magnets for roving bands of violent self-described anarchists.

"Regrettably, I would say that the violence and the property damage does dictate that we have to find an alternate way to minimize that," Zehr said in an interview Monday.

Like what?

"Who knows. Let's say there's an island in the Pacific Ocean someplace where this could go on."

Over the weekend, Toronto's downtown financial corridor became a war zone as thousands of police clashed with G20 protesters, some of whom smashed store windows and set several police cruisers ablaze.

Zehr said the mayhem demonstrates how hard it is to prevent violent troublemakers from hijacking peaceful protests in the heart of a major urban centre.

If world leaders met instead in a remote location, he said legitimate protesters would likely have to organize a series of demonstrations at various points around the globe, rather than funnelling them all into one densely-populated section of a single city.

Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco agreed.

"If it's imperative for (world leaders) to meet, it needs to be remote," he said.

"There's no way that it should be in an area where damage to property is going to be done. There's all kinds of other places that these can be held where there's very little opportunity for damage to property."

Neither Fiacco nor Zehr was keen on playing host to such an event in their cities.

"I would not put our Regina businesses, I would not put innocent people at risk," said Fiacco.

Not all mayors agree.

Saskatoon's Don Atchison said world leaders should feel free to meet wherever they choose.

"I guess the question is do you relent to terrorists, anarchists, to hostage-takers, people who kidnap?" said Atchison, who believes the violent militants terrorized Torontonians and held the city hostage.

"I guess if you say never have (summits) again (in city centres), you would be capitulating to the anarchists and terrorists."

For all that, however, Atchison doubts his resolve will ever be put to the test. He suspects Saskatoon is too small and out of the way to ever be chosen to host a summit.

Halifax is also relatively small and out of the way but it played host in 1995 to the G7 leaders, as they were known then. Mayor Peter Kelly recalled that the summit "went very well."

"That was a time where (leaders) were able to walk the streets, shake hands, go jogging early in the morning and things were very much open . . . We were able to showcase the municipality and our people and it went over very well."

Times have changed, he acknowledged but he'd still be prepared to host a summit — with some provisos.

"Nobody would want to go through what Toronto went through," Kelly said.

In future, he suggested summits should be held on the outskirts of cities, rather than their downtown cores.

For Toronto Mayor David Miller, the obvious lesson is that the federal government should listen to the advice of host cities. Toronto had wanted the summit to be held at Exhibition Place rather than in the heart of the financial district.

"What the run-up to this summit did is it showed the federal government . . . why it's exceptionally important to work directly with Canada's largest cities," he told a news conference Monday.