If you really want to drive through Kananaskis Country during the G-8 Summit, you'll have company. The RCMP is going along for the ride.
According to a G-8 Summit Security Office announcement Friday, 85 per cent of vehicle-accessible camps, and half the group and backcountry camps will remain available for recreational use before and during the summit in late June.
Reaching the camps from the June 23 to 29 period will take a little time. Police will escort vehicles along Highway 40 from the park's north gate, to the intersection with the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail (Highway 742).
All vehicles will be cleared and then queued at checkpoints.
RCMP Cpl. Jamie Johnston would not confirm or deny vehicles will be subject to search.
Traffic is to be separated into two lines, one for people with credentials allowing them into Kananaskis Village and the other for regular traffic.
The convoy announcement was part of a damage-control effort by the Summit Office and Alberta Community Development Friday. Last Sunday, the Herald reported that K-Country would be shut down for up to three weeks due to G-8. As it now stands, more than 95 per cent of the land base within Kananaskis will remain open for camping and recreation.
"We said from the beginning that our intent is to have a minimal amount of disruption over as short a time period as possible," Johnston said.
Dale Dick, chairman of the Kananaskis Area Residents for Economic and Environmental Sustainability, received the announcement as "good, but also unsurprising news."
"We were concerned about certain misperceptions and wanted to make sure the correct news got out in the community," said Dick, who is general manager of the Delta Lodge Kananaskis.
Inside Out Experience plans to run its rafts on the Kananaskis River, upper Bow and lower Bow without interruption. "I hadn't taken (the threat of shutdown) seriously, personally or business-wise," said Joan Taylor, a managing partner. "We decided to go ahead on a very positive, forward-thinking basis instead of being naysayers."
Sundance Lodges rents 30 teepees and trappers' tents, and 32 recreational vehicle sites. Aside from G-8 officials booking the company solid, Sundance will be open for business.
"If people are concerned about a specific place, they should phone the manager directly," owner Brian Green said. "We've had people calling us this week, concerned we would be closed in July. That is not true."
G-8 will close unidentified facilities in the Elbow River Valley and Spray Lakes area, the Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area and surrounding backcountry area as early as June 17 to June 28.
"That is a small percentage of campsites," said Rick Guinn, owner of Boundary Ranch, a trail-riding operation near the village. "I suspect there could be some adjustments to this yet. They (summit security) have already relaxed their initial thoughts on things."
Business operators are understandably anxious for customers to believe it is business as usual, but the manager of a company managing campgrounds said the public will experience a lot of waiting. "It's going to be horrendous," said the manager, who did not want to be identified. "We are certainly feeling the pinch."
There 'as armored cars and tanks and jeeps
An' rigs of every size
Yeah, them chicken coops 'as full o' bears
An' choppers filled the skies
Well we shot the line an' we went for broke
With a thousand screamin' trucks
And 11 long-haired friends O' Jesus
In a chartreuse micro-bus
Cause we got a mighty convoy, rockin' through the night
Yeah, we got mighty convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?
-- Convoy, performed by C.W. McCall
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