Conservation Groups say Jumbo Glacier Resort Cannot Legally Proceed
Jumbo Creek Conservation Society and Wildsight have, with the assistance of Ecojustice, made submissions to the Environmental Assessment Office that will help determine whether Glacier Resorts Ltd.’s Environmental Certificate is still valid. If valid, the Certificate allows the company to build their proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort. The issue hinges on the question of whether the project was substantially started within the allotted 10-year time period.
Ecojustice staff lawyer Morgan Blakley is representing the two non-profit organizations, both of which are based in the Kootenays near the site of the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.
“Glacier Resorts Ltd. waited until the last weeks of their 10-year window to start construction on the resort and all they’ve accomplished is to pour concrete slabs for two buildings and anchors for a single ski lift” says JCCS’s Bob Campsall. “There is a good reason these Certificates come with an expiration date. Environmental factors and available information about environmental impacts change over the course of a decade.”
The Jumbo Valley is central to the Purcell mountains ecosystem, which is considered to be both core habitat and critical connectivity habitat for Northern and Southern grizzly populations. If allowed to proceed, the proposed year-round ski resort would include a large network of ski lifts crisscrossing four glaciers along with hotels, condominiums, town houses and chalets.
By email dated October 9, 2014, the Environmental Assessment Office confirmed that Glacier Resorts Ltd. was not in compliance with several key pre-construction conditions that were part of the Environmental Certificate. The last minute construction by Glacier Resorts Ltd. appears to have been done prior to meeting certain key pre-construction commitments.
“Glacier Resorts hasn’t completed the water testing they committed to do prior to construction as part of the environmental assessment process” says Wildsight’s Robyn Duncan. “We’ve been following the law faithfully and honestly throughout this process and the company’s failure to comply with their commitments just reinforces our long-stated concerns about their ability to build and operate this project in an environmentally responsible manner.“
Jumbo Creek Conservation Society and Wildsight asked Environment Minister Mary Pollack for a stop-work order to prohibit any further construction on the project until the mandatory pre-conditions to construction have been fulfilled. While the Order was not issued, the Environmental Assessment Office did note that Glacier Resorts Ltd. was in non-compliance with legally binding preconditions to construction.
“For my clients, this issue is about due process and ensuring that companies and government follow the law and abide by the terms of their environmental certificates” says Morgan Blakley, staff lawyer with Ecojustice.
In the surrounding area, public opinion is firmly against the resort. In 2013, the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality (JGMRM) was created out of nothing.
Despite having no residents, no infrastructure, and no buildings, a mayor and 2 councillors were appointed to govern the ‘Municipality’. The Union of B.C. Municipalities is opposed to the governance and funding model for the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality and recently asked the Province to consider a new governance structure for resort municipalities in direct response to JGMRM.
Read the submissions here: