Jumbo wild, not Jumbo spoiled
The bid to develop the Upper Jumbo Valley and gain exclusive access to four glaciers has been opposed from the start.
For twenty years, the majority of local residents have fought against this unsustainable project. Residents have sent thousands of letters to the provincial government opposing it.
Most residents oppose Jumbo Glacier Resort
Each time public response has been measured, the majority have said ‘no’ to the Jumbo resort scheme.
The proponent claims the public has had ample opportunity to comment, but the public has never had a say in whether the resort should actually be built or not.
A handful of public hearings and comment periods were about specific aspects of the resort development plan, not whether a ski resort plunked in the heart of a major grizzly corridor was a good idea.
Summary of polls and comments
2004 PUBLIC INPUT: 91% against
91% of 5,839 individual responses to the Environmental Assessment Office’s call for input on the Jumbo Glacier Resort proposal were against it. Since then, thousands more letters and e-mails opposing the resort have been sent to the Province.
2007 SURVEY: 79% against
A survey released by the Regional District of East Kootenay on November 7, 2007, shows a count of 643 to 173 Area F residents as being against a resort being built in the Jumbo Valley. The survey was carried out by the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) to allow residents and property owners of Electoral Area F to formally register their view on Glacier Resorts Ltd. developing a year-round ski resort in the Jumbo Creek valley west of Invermere.
2008 POLL: 63% against
A third-party random-sample telephone survey of 910 British Columbians residing in the electoral districts of Columbia-Revelstoke, Nelson-Creston and Kootenay-East was conducted in October of 2008.
Invermere Valley Echo newspaper poll: 92% opposed
Jumbo Creek Conservation Society web poll: 95% opposed
Kootenay Advertiser and News online poll: 92% opposed
District of Invermere Town Hall Meeting: 90% opposed
Blockade action in 2008
In the summer of 2008, bulldozers began digging roads into the alpine ecosystem below Farnham Glacier to make access for a proposed ski lift. The area had, apparently, been recently taken in as part of the resort’s Controlled Recreation Area.
Members of the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society, Wildsight, the Ktunaxa Nation and the public set up a blockade at the 57 kilometre mark of the Jumbo Valley road, where they stayed until the equipment was removed two weeks later, on August 14, 2008.
Damage from the construction has yet to be cleaned up by the proponent.
Access gates were removed and portable outhouses remained to empty their contents into creeks, which also received tonnes of silt from the removal of the vegetation.
No public warning: tenure-area expands
Also in 2008, the B.C. government gave the proponent a new, 1,400-hectare tenure for resort skiing and sight-seeing on and around Farnham Glacier.
A fraction of this land had originally been licensed to the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) in 2004. When the 2008 license was granted to Glacier Resorts Ltd., the area’s size went from 240 hectares to 1,400 hectares.
The tenure issuance was in direct contravention of the Province’s public land tenure policy and was done without public notification. Neither First Nations nor overlapping tenure holders such as guide outfitters or an affected heli-ski operator were notified.
The question must be asked: Why is land around the Jumbo Glacier being given away to real estate developers with no public input?
A brief word about CORE
The resort promoter has used the outcome of the Commission on Resources and Environment (CORE) land use plan to prop up his bid to control Jumbo, stating the plan “confirmed the project.”
The CORE land use negotiators — a mix of stakeholder groups — determined through a series of round table meetings in 1992 that human settlement was NOT an appropriate use for the land in the Upper Jumbo Valley.
The 1994 East Kootenay Land Use Plan, which came out of the CORE process, was prepared by one planner who decided that a resort could be considered in the Jumbo Valley, if an environmental assessment occurred that INCLUDED public input.
In making this recommendation, he ignored the consensus of the user groups who had said “no” to human settlement in the Upper Jumbo Valley during the CORE planning process.
His recommendation (Recommendation 75) was to begin an approval process for a resort development in Jumbo Creek. Further, an assessment should “identify potential impacts and mitigative measures to address impacts prior to development approval.”
The process “should also include public involvement to ensure that all values and perspectives are fully considered in a final decision.”
But who makes that final decision?
And why, when assessments and public involvement has been since a necessity since 1994, has the proponent complained bitterly about having to do too many studies?
Perhaps the fault lies with how tenure is awarded by B.C.’s tourism-hungry government.*
Even as the Upper Jumbo Valley inches closer to being deemed to be a Mountain Resort Municipality, there is a lack of authority over the basic yes or no question of the Jumbo resort.
While the proponent has spent considerable effort to produce a 588-page Master Plan and have the Master Plan Agreement signed off by the Province, and while the regional government has lobbed the file upwards to avoid being in charge of rezoning, the fate of Jumbo is still uncertain.
How can it be said that the voice of the public—a public that has said no to Jumbo resort every single time—has been listened to?