CALGARY — At least eight people were in custody Tuesday after several Greenpeace protesters rappelled from the top of the Calgary Tower to hang a banner slamming the oil industry.
The aerial acrobatics began around 9:30 a.m. when three climbers draped a banner that said “Separate Oil and State” across the tourist attraction’s bulbous observation deck.
The protest came to an end about two hours later when the last of the climbers clambered back to the top of the 200-metre tower and was taken into custody.
Police shut down several blocks around the site while the protesters hung from the top.
Greenpeace spokeswoman Jessica Wilson said the protest was to outline “the cosy relationship” oil companies have with the federal and provincial governments that “allows companies to self-monitor in the oilsands.”
Visitors to the Calgary Tower can pay for a panoramic view 160 metres above the ground of Calgary and the mountains.
Officials at the tower refused to comment.
“We don’t know how they got their equipment up there with them, but apparently they did not have it with them when they went up the elevator this morning,” said Calgary police Insp. Geoff Gawlinski.
“We don’t know if they were able to store it previously somehow or how they got up. We’re obviously investigating that.”
Gawlinski said it appears the protesters crawled through a window to get out onto the observation deck, where they lowered themselves and the banner for all to see.
He said a tactical team assessed the climbing equipment “and it appeared that they were properly set up so there was no urgency to intervene and they felt comfortable letting them ascend themselves.”
Charges are pending, Gawlinski said.
Last week, Greenpeace protested in Vancouver at the office of Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) and demanded the company halt plans to build a pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia. The group said a three-million-litre oil spill from the company’s pipelines into a Michigan river was an example of what could happen in B.C.