Economic Feasibility

“It appears doubtful that the (Jumbo) resort can achieve economic break-even,” Snow Engineering Feasibility Assessment, March 1999

The East Kootenay region is full of people who love to ski. Economically, the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort was not feasible—not only for the nearby communities, but for BC provincial taxpayers as a whole.

For years, Jumbo Glacier Resort (JGR) was touted by the developers as an economic lifesaver for the Kootenay region, bringing a claimed $450 million investment to the region. But these claims and the numbers don’t add up. An economic study by Dr. Marvin Shaeffer in 2011 found that:

“There is NO [emphasis added] basis to conclude there would be net benefit for the Province of British Columbia if this resort is approved. The market growth forecasts underlying the proponent’s feasibility studies are out-dated; they do not reflect current market conditions or outlooks. The employment impact estimates are overly optimistic and do not recognize the extent to which tourism at Jumbo Glacier would divert visitors from other resorts. Nor do they consider where the workers would come from and what benefit that would offer British Columbians. Many of the new jobs would be filled by in-migrants as the ski industry already has to recruit international workers from abroad. There would be costs for government providing the services the in-migrants and the project itself would require. Overall there is simply no evidence of net benefits — certainly no evidence there would be net benefits that would justify the adverse impacts the project would have.”

Read the full report here.

Saturated Market

There are currently eight ski resorts within a four hour radius of Invermere: Panorama, Kimberley, Fernie, Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, Whitewater, Nakiska, Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise. None of these resorts are running at capacity and the addition of a new resort would only detract visitors to these existing resorts.

“The Canadian Ski Council is predicting at least a 22% drop in numbers of domestic skiers in the next 15 years. It’s risky to rely on international visitors to fuel that growth,” said the University of Calgary’s Professor Simon Hudson.

If Jumbo was going to succeed, it would have been at the expense of other neighbouring ski areas.

Road Construction and Avalanche Control

The Ministry of Transport predicted that a two-lane paved road would be required for the proposed resort. This road would cost approximately $70 million in total plus maintenance costs of $7,500 – $10,000/km as well as avalanche control at $150,000/year at minimum. Avalanche experts have estimated that the Jumbo Valley would be more complicated and costly to maintain than Rogers Pass.

While the cost of building the road will be born by the proponent or the municipality, BC taxpayers would be on the hook for all maintenance and avalanche costs once the road becomes a public highway.

Read more here. 

Climate Change

Climate change is a serious threat to glaciers worldwide. The proposed Jumbo Glacier Resorts literally rested upon the sustainability of its glaciers, with plans to access and ski on four glaciers. Climate scientists predict that glaciers in the Columbia Mountains will be significantly altered, if not gone entirely, by 2100.

Dr. David Schindler, Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology at University of Alberta says, “Our results indicate that climate warming does not bode well for ski resorts like Jumbo, or for snow sports in general.”

And Dr. Brian Menounos, Canada Research Chair in Glacier Change at the University of Northern BC,  says “The modelling that I have seen says most of the ice in the Columbia Basin will not be there by 2100.”

Dr. Andrew Weaver, lead author of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, calls the JGR “a bit of a pipedream.”

Read more here.

Requiem for a Glacier

Frustration, sadness, beauty and passion combined to create the Requiem for a Glacier, a truly unique performance to honour our glaciers and oppose the Jumbo Glacier Resort.

In July 2012, 50 musicians, 50 porters, sound technicians and camera operators trekked up to the site of the proposed resort on the Farnham Glacier to perform Paul Walde’s four-part operatic composition, Requiem for a Glacier. Commissioned by the Langham Cultural Centre, the piece mourns the loss of glacial ice due to global warming and the approval of the resort. A unique and moving intersection of art, community and conservation, Requiem for a Glacier poignantly highlighted the threat posed by global warming to glaciers (and glacier resorts) and mourned the loss of wilderness.

Find out more about this inspiring piece here.

Listen to CBC’s Bill Metcalfe’s radio podcast about the piece here.