Jumbo Construction Green-Lighted Despite Environmental Issues

One of BC’s most controversial projects, the Jumbo Glacier Resort, has been given the green light from the Environmental Assessment Office to proceed with development high in the Purcell Mountains with the submission of a self-report, jumping over the hurdle of 195 legally-binding conditions of their contentious Environmental Certificate without so much as a site visit.

“We’ve been told over and over again that the BC government will make sure the Jumbo Resort follows the strictest environmental standards, but now approval for construction is being granted based on a completely insufficient self-report and before a site visit takes place,” said Wildsight’s Robyn Duncan. “It would be laughable if there weren’t such real consequences.”

For Jumbo Glacier Resort, BC’s environmental standards do not require site visits or any verification of the developer’s claims before construction can proceed, so a self-report stating compliance submitted by Glacier Resorts Ltd was enough to get the green light from BC’s Environmental Assessment Office. An audits of Glacier Resorts’ compliance with the environmental certificate conditions will happen only after construction has been green-lighted.

“We know that once an on-the-ground audit begins, it will be clear that the environmental certificate conditions have not been properly satisfied,” said Duncan, “but unfortunately our flawed environmental assessment process allows construction in this sensitive area to proceed until the environmental damage piles up.”

Leading grizzly bear biologists have long opposed the resort for the impact to the grizzly population of the Purcell Mountains and do not believe that any proposed measures would mitigate the impacts to the interconnected grizzly population of the Purcell, Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains. Along with grizzly bears, two other species threated by the planned development high in the mountains are mountain goats and west-slope cutthroat trout.

“Local opposition to the resort development has always been high, because locals recognize that a 6500-bed resort with 22 chairlifts is simply not appropriate for this remote and environmentally sensitive mountain area,” said Duncan. “In the past few years, under Glacier Resorts’ tenure on the Farnham Glacier, we’ve seen diesel spills, piles of garbage left behind and a failure to properly manage access to the sensitive alpine ecosystem. There’s no reason to expect any different at Jumbo.”

Glacier Resorts plans to begin construction this summer, as their second 5-year environmental certificate for the proposed resort expires in October 2014. The conflict over the proposed development in the Jumbo Valley has been ongoing for more than two decades.

“Local opposition remains strong and the battle to protect the Jumbo Valley is far from over,” added Duncan.