KANANASKIS, Alta. - Eight months to go and already they are draining the pond in the heart of this artificial mountain village.
There are, however, no navy frogmen, no minesweepers, no mini-subs to install for added security. It's just the regular fall cleaning to get the pond ready for winter.
The first snow of the new season is on the ground and fast melting, yet those who work here cannot get summer off their minds. Not the summer just lost, but one that should still seem impossibly distant: specifically June 26-28, 2002, when the leaders of the G8 countries will come to little Kananaskis for an economic summit.
"Some people here are very worried about it," says Naoko Maebashi, standing behind the cash register in an empty souvenir store.
"Very, very worried about it."
There has already been one meeting with the service staff about security measures; there will be many others before the summit is either under way or perhaps even cancelled -- for uneasiness about the summit and opposition to it has increased steadily since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and the subsequent scares over anthrax.
Up to that infamous Tuesday morning in New York City and Washington, people here worried about protesters smashing their way through the fragile trails and forests of this exquisite valley retreat to disrupt the meetings. An even greater worry facing the leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia, it was previously believed, would be the nuisance black bears that occasionally come wandering on to the village grounds in search of garbage to raid.
And the closest thing to a bio-terrorism threat was then thought to be natural -- the almost infinitesimal risk of one of the leaders ending up with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from a wood tick bite. It offered the delightful prospect of the official photograph of the world leaders, each with his trouser legs tucked into his socks to ward off even the remotest possibility of attack from the irritating little creatures.
But all that changed five weeks ago. Albertans felt almost instantly that they, too, were involved in the new world order whether they wished to be or not. Ralph Klein, the Alberta Premier, suggested the army might have to be brought in to protect the oil and gas sector from terrorist attacks. Ever since, the impossible has been nibbling at people's imaginations.
Now, when some who work here in Kananaskis look down the valley where golden eagles are often sighted, they wonder at the possibility of crop dusters, even missiles. When they look up at the rock-faced mountains that surround this resort, rather appropriately, like the sides of a granite playpen, they see shadows racing in where the sun used to shine.
Bob Mitchell, a Calgary energy worker who has driven up into the foothills for a company meeting, looks off into the spectacular hills and shrugs.
"One has to have places for these summits, I guess," he says. "But since Sept. 11, you really have to rethink where you'd have them. Personally, I'm not for it.
"I know this area. Security will be tight, but there's various routes into this place. You'd hate to see this unique area spoiled in any way. I'm concerned, not just on the effect it might have on Kananaskis itself, but the potential effect on Calgary."
Calgary is only an hour away, and the concerns there seem to grow daily. At first it was that the protesters who have long been marching against increasing globalization would be forced to demonstrate in the city rather than be allowed out into the resort area. Now, people are talking about the enormous costs. Already, Calgary police have had to make an emergency request from City Hall for $3-million to purchase items -- gas masks, helmets, fire-retardant coveralls -- that are increasingly in short supply as a result of the attacks.
Dave Bronconnier, the Mayor of Calgary, has said another $14-million will be required by police services by Nov. 15 and he is demanding a signal from Ottawa that the federal government is willing to pick up all the costs for summit security -- costs that are expected to soar far above the $17-million that has so far been budgeted. (Quebec City claims to have spent $100-million on the Summit of the Americas this past April; officials there are still arguing with Ottawa over who picks up what portion of the total bill.)
When Mr. Bronconnier refers to the G8 gathering as "the Prime Minister's party," there is absolutely no fondness in his voice.
Out at the village itself, there are few material signs that within a matter of months there will be more military presence here than at any time since the Second World War, when the federal government built Camp 130 Seebe in the shadow of Mount Baldy to hold 700 German prisoners of war, mostly officers, for the duration of the war.
The newspaper lying in the village information office might be headlined Bombs Reel Taliban, but the main notice posted on the board still advertises the right way and the wrong way for hikers to deal with black bear attacks.
Even so, there is a wariness about the village that has nothing to do with creatures of the deep woods. Even guests show signs of apprehension. One woman, a Calgarian who refuses to give her name, says that last night her waiter told them there had been security experts in to check the water supply. She shudders visibly at the very thought of the possibilities.
"I imagine it seemed like a good idea to the Prime Minister or whoever thought it up," she says, shaking her head angrily. "But nobody asked us for our opinion."
Back at the souvenir shop, Naoko Maebashi is a little more accepting. "I guess someone has to do it," she says.
"One wouldn't really mind if there were just peaceful demonstrations," says Bob Mitchell, "but from Sept. 11 on, world security has to be rethought completely.
"We have to ask just what the sense of having this thing here would be. One can only hope someone is thinking about it."
One guest is. He's Joe Davis, a middle-aged American who has come up from San Antonio, Tex., simply to get away from it all for a late fall weekend.
"It seems to me to be a fine place for [the summit]," he says before setting out on a morning walk.
"They should be able to make everything quite secure. I'm sure George and Vladimir -- oh yes, and your Jean -- would be quite comfortable here. I'm not worried.
"But then, I'm not afraid of anthrax, either."
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