G-8 security officials are urging Kananaskis outfitters and guides to be the first line of defence against terrorists, by reporting suspicious clients eager to snoop around the summit site.
Calgary RCMP Cpl. James Johnston said officials need the help of outfitters to thwart ne'er-do-wells who might pose as tourists to gain intelligence on summit security.
"Security is everybody's concern here," said Johnston, a G-8 security spokesman. "We're only as good as our intelligence.
"When red flags go out (about suspicious clients) to (outfitters), we would certainly ask them . . . to contact their local police or G-8 planning crew."
The G-8 summit will run June 26 and 27 in Kananaskis Village.
The meeting will be attended by leaders of the world's eight most powerful countries.
K-Country's alpine wilderness is ideal for hiking, camping and horseback riding and is used by numerous outfitters, guides and outdoor adventure companies.
The G-8 security team is sending letters to touring and guiding companies in K-Country, requesting them to be on alert for customers who seem a tad too interested in the G-8.
Johnston said outfitters with concerns over clients should call police and "advise them: 'Hey, I talked to this person, and he asked these specific questions, and I'm a little concerned about the probing nature of them.'
"By providing that kind of intelligence," Johnston added, "we can ensure the peaceful conclusion of the summit."
That said, the outdoor adventure operators would like a little information of their own -- specifically, how greatly the G-8 will disrupt their business.
"We don't know a darn thing," said Jan Matthews, co-owner of Anchor D Guiding and Outfitting Ltd. of Turner Valley, south of Calgary.
"We've been writing letters all over the place, trying to find out what (G-8 officials) want to close down, and what we can do to continue with our business -- but we haven't had any response at all."
G-8 officials have said they will impose a security perimeter around Kananaskis Village prior to the summit, but have not released specifics on the plan.
Matthews said clients are booking tours months in advance. She needs to know now what parts of K-Country will be cordoned off.
"It would be a real shame if we have to say to these people at the last minute: 'Sorry, you can't come.' Their whole holiday would be shot."
Abe Deyto, marketing co-ordinator for Creative Western Adventures Ltd. of Calgary, found it odd the RCMP would ask tour operators to act as informants.
"Security is a big concern, but it's not why we're in business," Deyto said. "We're here to conduct tours."
Johnston, the G-8 security spokesman, said RCMP will be doing background security checks on all workers at the summit, as well as on some tour operators and outfitters who need to be in the area during the event.
Only those providing services at the G-8 -- such as catering, cleaning and garbage collection -- will be allowed into the main summit site.
Johnston stressed G-8 security officials have no plans to close all of K-Country to the public.
"It's a balance we have to meet with all users in the area," he said. "We are not talking about K-Country being shut down to the public, but . . . there won't be just random groups from wherever wandering in on horseback."
Matthews said the letter she received from the RCMP gave no details on how to distinguish terrorists from tourists.
"We got just a general letter saying. . . keep your eyes open. If anything looks suspicious, get hold of (the RCMP). And don't book them (the potential terrorists)."
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