G-8 summit activists plan to erect a huge tent city for 20,000 people protesting the June meeting of world leaders in Kananaskis.
Organizers of the proposed eight-day camp west of Calgary say they hope to create a festival-like atmosphere with several large tents for first aid, information, security and food, as well as a main stage for music and theatre.
They say they are looking at sites near the junction of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 40, about 25 kilometres north of the June 26-27 summit in Kananaskis Country.
"It's best to have 10,000 to 20,000 people in an area where we can network together, plan together, have workshops and teach-ins and confront the G-8 in a big way," said activist Alan Keane.
"It's all about solidarity-building, teaching and skill-sharing," said Keane.
There are also plans for special tents for culture, information, media and a radio station. Buses will shuttle activists to and from Calgary, a 40-minute drive away.
Police responsible for summit security think the camp is a great idea.
"If it helps the activists get a place where they can actually get their Charter of Rights guaranteed, in other words, to get their meetings done and their voice heard and they are happy with that, then we are happy as well," said RCMP Cpl. Patrick Webb.
But police also said the plan is still very tentative as far as they're concerned.
"This is just an idea the protesters have," Webb said. "We haven't seen any proposals in writing about where it will be or what they will be doing there."
Federal government summit organizers also said they have not received a written proposal for the tent city.
"We won't be discussing the details of proposals that are received," G-8 spokesman Mike O'Shaughnessy said from Ottawa.
Calgary's G-8 office director Bev Longstaff said she is also unaware of the plan.
David Robbins, a trade campaigner for the Council of Canadians, said it will be an important gathering.
"I think the vision of the tent city, a democratic vibrant space, is a great idea," Robbins said from Ottawa. Several unions and non-governmental organizations are also involved in the planning, which began last November.
"We're just in the process of figuring out all the details," said Les Steel of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"I look at it like a folk festival with thousands of people."
"The location we have now is good, but it's not ideal," said Keane, a founder of Co-Motion Collective, a British-Columbia-based organization that teaches protesters how to deal with riot police and how to set up blockades.
The activists said they have approached G-8 summit organizers for money and permission to use a provincial campground outside the area where the summit is being held.
"Sure, it's a radical idea -- them supplying space for protesters," Keane said. "If we can all create a space that's fun and safe for all of us, then I think it is in the best interest for all of us."
The plan is to open the camp on the summer solstice, June 21, and spend the week training on non-violent action. If people want to hold a sit-in protest on the highway leading to the G-8 location, organizers say they will show them how to do it and provide legal advice.
There will also be discussions about the environment and aboriginal culture and debates about the role of G-8 countries in the world.
On the final day, June 28, campers will clean up the site and hold debriefing sessions.
RCMP have said peaceful protests are acceptable, but they will arrest anyone doing anything illegal.
Organizers said they have had hundreds of inquiries and offers of assistance from Canadians and Americans.
"People are wondering how to plug in," Keane said.
"They are offering wilderness first aid, workshops and to set up a waste-water treatment system."
Musicians have also volunteered their talents, he said.
Organizers are also planning for wet weather as the area is often drenched by rainstorms in June.
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