The Resort Municipality of Jumbo held its first Council meeting in Radium on Tuesday, with protesters gathered outside the Council Chamber.
Wildsight estimates that between 150 and 200 people attended the rally.
“The appointed mayor and council were sworn in and it was confirmed that their salaries would be paid for by us! That’s right the BC taxpayers are footing the bill for the municipality that no one wants!” This statement was posted by Wildsight on their Facebook page.
Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald was in the Legislature on Tuesday, and spoke to MLAs about Jumbo.
“The first meeting of the appointed council of the Jumbo municipality was greeted with a demonstration against a land giveaway that has absolutely no evidence of local support, and has no democratic basis,” said Macdonald in Question Period Tuesday. “The minister talks about a massive investment but neglects to mention that there is actually no investor.
“The money the minister is spending is public money. The land that is being given away is public land. And the benefits are entirely to be enjoyed by a small group of BC Liberal insiders.
“How can the minister possibly justify this waste of taxpayer dollars?”
“There is not one building in Jumbo. There is not one paved road. There is not one resident. And that is not likely to change at any time because there is also no investor,.
“With no investors other than the taxpayers of BC, what is the government doing proceeding with this waste of taxpayers’ money?”
Robyn Duncan of Wildsight was at the protest and attended the Council meeting.
She said the Mayor (Greg Deck) and two Councillors did not address the protest and simply conducted a quick business meeting.
“We weren’t able to glean a lot of information from the meeting,” Duncan said. “They confirmed the salaries ($7500 for the Mayor and $5000 for Councillors) and a direct transfer of $200,000 from the provincial government. So those salaries are paid by the BC taxpayer.”
Duncan says the strategy now is to continue to point out the ludicrous nature of a municipality without citizens and wait for the decision on the two legal challenges facing the Jumbo Resort.
“The Ktunaxa are challenging the Master Development plant and the West Kootenay Eco Society is challenging the constitutionality of the creation of the municipality. These are the next steps in terms of moving forward,” she said.
“Of course there could be a change in government in May as well.”
Duncan says that although something could have changed, Wildsight agrees with Macdonald that there is no investor.
So why the push to establish the municipality?
“That’s a big mystery,” she said. “There are obviously people who believe strongly in the project, But event Oberto Oberti (the developer involved in the Jumbo project since 1990) said in September that if he was an investor he’d invest in Valemount, not Jumbo.”
Oberti is involved in the development of a Valemount resort as well.
However, Doug Clovechok, BC Liberal candidate for the Columbia River Revelstoke riding says that is just opinion.
“What the NDP candidate and Wildsight are saying about the lack of investors for Jumbo begs the questions: how would they possibly know that and do they understand how business works? I am not privy to the Jumbo Glacier Resort Inc. business plan but do know that in the world of business, ventures of this magnitude do not proceed without economic confidence and support. Opinions given by the NDP candidate and Wildsight on this issue are just that…opinion!”