Late last week, the provincial Minister of Environment deemed that the Jumbo Glacier Resort Environmental Certificate has expired. Minister Polak determined that the project has not been substantially started, a requirement of the Environmental Assessment Act.
In making her decision, the minister focused on the physical activities that had taken place at the project site. In this case, the minister determined that the physical activities undertaken on the various components did not meet the threshold of a substantially started project.
This, says Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald, is a huge victory for the people of the Columbia Valley.
“I’m very, very pleased and relieved,” Macdonald said. “Minister Polak insisted all along that she would make this decision in a fair manner and she’s done that.”
But what has to happen next, Macdonald says, is the immediate dissolution of the Jumbo Resort Municipality.
“The creation of the Jumbo Resort Municipality was always a tremendous waste of public resources. It should be dissolved immediately. It was always an abomination to the real democratic process.”
The Jumbo Resort Municipality’s creation was announced by then Minister of Community Bill Bennett (MLA Kootenay East and current Minister of Energy) in November of 2012. A mayor and Council were appointed. It came under fire immediately as a municipality with no residents.
“Not surprisingly, I am disappointed,” Jumbo Glacier Resort Mayor Greg Deck told the Invermere Valley Echo. “I would presume that the proponent will be meeting with the province to understand more fully the rational and the options, but I am not party to that process.”
Deck said if negotiations between Jumbo Glacier Ltd and the province cease, the $1 million that has been allocated to his council over a five-year term will likely be reallocated elsewhere.
“We exist to provide a municipal underpinning to the agreement between the province and Jumbo Glacier Resort, and if those necessary agreements are not in place, then our funding will be in question,” Deck said.
The other thing that needs to happen right away, according to Macdonald, is that the work that was started to show a substantial start needs to be removed.
“When the proponent began to lay concrete slabs, the point we made was, is the government sure the proponent has the capacity to remove the mess they made? So now the Ministry needs to insist that happens so the valley can be returned to the state it was in.”
Macdonald has been involved in the Jumbo proposal since he was Mayor of Golden in 1993, and certainly in a very large way since he ran for MLA in 2004.
“My perspective has always been that communities have a right to have significant say on what happens on the Crown land around them. In Golden, we had a referendum before Kicking Horse was developed and it indicated tremendous support. In the Columbia Valley, that support was never there.
“Then there was the very clear First Nations interest. They were very clear on the importance of that area to them.
“It’s a huge victory for the people of this area. I have to think this is the end of it and we can move on.”
“We are overjoyed with the province’s decision,” said Robyn Duncan of Wildsight. “This is the only reasonable outcome for this beleaguered project.”
Joe Foy, national campaign director with the Wilderness Committee, said the decision was good news.
“We knew this project was already on thin ice,” Foy said. “The BC government must now take steps to ensure that the Jumbo Pass area is granted protected area status, so this ill-conceived resort proposal never comes back again to endanger the region’s grizzly bears and other wildlife.”
Jumbo Glacier Resort is a proposed year-round ski resort development in Jumbo Valley, 55 kilometres west of Invermere.
An EAC was issued in Oct. 2004 and as part of an extension issued in 2009, the expiry date was set for Oct. 12, 2014.
With a file from Trevor Crawley