A dispute between the Ktunaxa Nation Council and the B.C. government is going to the Supreme Court of Canada over a proposed all-year ski resort at Jumbo Glacier.

A dispute between the Ktunaxa Nation Council and the B.C. government is going to the Supreme Court of Canada over a proposed all-year ski resort at Jumbo Glacier.

RDEK wants province to deny Jumbo voting rights at board table

RDEK debates Jumbo voting rights at regional district table at monthly April meeting.

The RDEK is encouraging the province to make some amendments to a legal document that would allow the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality a voting seat.

Back in 2009, a resolution was passed by the RDEK board requesting that if a resort municipality was created, that it should not be given a voting seat on the RDEK board until there enough of a local population to elect a local council.

When the resort was incorporated in November 2012 by a provincial Order in Council, the legal document, called a Letters Patent, included language that would give a municipal director RDEK voting obligations the year after the taxable value of the land totals more than $30 million or after January 1, 2017.

“When they set up the municipality in the Letters Patent, they basically said that this municipality would get a vote by 2017,” said Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft. “Obviously, that was a number of years ago and not much has happened up there.”

The JGMRM council voted passed a resolution to extend their RDEK voting rights starting from 2020 instead of 2017, however, the RDEK felt it didn’t go for enough.

“The Jumbo council itself has sent a similar request—they don’t even want a voting seat at the board right now. So their request was to change the number from 2017 to 2020,” said Taft.

Taft says the RDEK board doesn’t want to see JGMRM get a vote that would affect regional interests if the municipality itself doesn’t have any residents.

“What ended up getting passed was basically adding support to the resolution of 2020 and further asking that there be a base minimum of population and assessed value before a voting seat is given to Jumbo,” said Taft.

“Philosophically, I think a lot of us believe that there shouldn’t be a vote on regional matters unless you’re representing some people and right now there’s no people up there.”

The province has the authority to amend the Letters Patent

The issue of building an all-year ski resort on Jumbo Glacier has been ongoing for more than 20 years.

Currently, the project is at a standstill after being ruled ‘not substantially started’ by the Ministry of Environment last June, which resulted in a Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC) expiring. Should the proponents—Glacier Resorts Ltd.—wish to continue, they must go obtain a new EAC.

In addition to the decision from the provincial government, the Ktunaxa Nation Council are taking the provincial government to the Supreme Court of Canada over a decision to approve a Master Development Plan in March 2012.

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the province had adequately consulted with the Ktunaxa Nation in  and an Appeal Court ruling upheld that decision in August 2015.

Now, the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear the Ktunaxa’s case, which centres on a challenge to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which argues that the approval of the Jumbo’s master development plan is a violation of their Charter right to freedom of religion. According to Ktunaxa religious beliefs, the region around Jumbo—known as Qat’muk—holds significant spiritual meaning as that’s where the Grizzly Bear Spirit born, goes to heal itself, and returns to the spirit world.

For Ktunaxa, Grizzly Bear Spirit is a unique and indispensable source of collective as well as individual guidance, strength, and protection, and a necessary part of many Ktunaxa spiritual practices and beliefs.

The Supreme Court will hear the case sometime in 2017.