Here we go again…(to court, that is)
Today, we’re in court again, represented by Ecojustice. We have been granted intervenor status in the latest appeal in the ongoing court saga of the cancelled Jumbo Environmental Certificate. Are you having deja vu? We don’t blame you. In the summer, we intervened in the Glacier Resorts vs. Minister of Environment case. This time around, it’s the Minister appealing the court decision made in the summer—a decision that sided with the developers. And on and on it goes.
For a re-cap of the Environmental Certificate ruling and hearings and appeal, check this out.
The current case is critical for Jumbo, but it’s also a very important case in terms of environmental assessment law in BC.
Environmental Certificates are initially granted for a limited number of years, with only one extension allowed. If developers don’t substantially start their project within that time frame, the certificate expires. Of course, if a proponent doesn’t start their project, they shouldn’t just be able to hang on to an environmental assessment certificate forever!
Time changes everything, including the parameters that were considered at the time of the environmental assessment. The situation on the ground can change a lot over ten years and the threat to ecosystems, wildlife and water may be much greater. New science sheds light on the impacts to species and waterways. The Environmental Assessment process takes this into consideration by initially granting what is essentially a probationary Environmental Certificate. If Glacier Resorts is successful in undoing the cancellation of its Environmental Certificate and effectively extending their certificate for more than ten years, then BC may end up covered with zombie projects that stay on the books for years and years..
One big change for Jumbo is the state of grizzly bear science. At the time of the Environmental Assessment, we knew that Jumbo was important for grizzlies, but we didn’t have the scientific evidence to say exactly how important. Ongoing science and research from grizzly biologist, Dr. Michael Proctor, later confirmed the Valley was a critical piece in an international wildlife corridor. A development the size of Jumbo could drastically impact grizzly movement, cutting off the north-south corridor. If we had the scientific studies then that we have now, the decision to approve the EA may have been a lot different.
So, back to court we go, together with the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society and with Ecojustice representing us again. If one thing is for certain, this resort should never be built—and it never will be.
Lead Image: Pat Morrow