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Large crowd of supporters force Forest Minister to make alternate plans Saturday in Kaslo

Edith Mauer, 98, was honoured for her long involvement in the Jumbo Wild! Campaign Saturday in Kaslo. — Photo courtesy Doug Pyper Photographics

The threat of more than 300 supporters of Jumbo Wild! was too much for Minister of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thompson and his Deputy Minister to handle according to West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild organizers.

The two government officials were scheduled to be in the North Kootenay City for the BC Community Forest Association’s annual general meeting Saturday, May 26, in Kaslo.

However, large crowd of Jumbo Wild! supporters may have forced alternate plans after the pair were invited to speak on Saturday evening.

“Neither Minister Steve Thompson nor Deputy Minister Konkin, were willing to face us," said K.Linda Kivi of the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild  in an emailed press release.

"They seem to not understand the concept of public accountability.”

The rally was timed to coincide with the BC Community Forest Association’s annual general meeting.

“The government wants us to think support for the resort is split, and this is hardly the case," said Gary Diers, organizer and Argenta resident in the same release by the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild.

"Overwhelming opposition has remained strong for the past 20 years,”

Diers and Kivi are part of the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild, a regional group that has joined with other organizations such as the Kootenay Mountaineering Club, the West Kootenay EcoSociety and the Valhalla Wilderness Society to stop the development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort.

“The 300 people who rallied at Vimy Park took the opportunity to express their discontent to Compagnie des Alpes, the French investors who are being courted by Jumbo Glacier Resort,” said Kivi.

Among the messages sent to Compagnie des Alpes was one from a veteran which read, “I’m writing from Vimy Park, named to honour the war dead who gave their lives to protect France from invasion.

"Please do not repay us by invading our homeland.”

This veteran’s postcard is one of 2000 that have been sent to the French company during the past month.

Another read, “Arretez!! My broker at Scotia Capital Inc. in Calgary says every financial institution in Canada knows Jumbo is a bad investment. There must be a better place to park your Euros.”

One couple wrote, “It is our land and we want it to remain pristine and wild, as God intended it to be. It is our children and grandchildren’s inheritance. Please make wise decisions.”

Diers said that bad decisions are mounting.

"Now we understand that the government wants to make Jumbo a resort municipality," Diers said. "This means basically that a town will exist with 5000 beds and no residents and that a mayor and council will be appointed.

"So now we have not only an assault on the environment and our wallets, but on democracy as well. The government will have to change its own laws to do this.”

Western Canada Wilderness Committee national campaigns co-ordinator, Joe Foy spoke at the event also, emphasizing how the destruction of a place like Jumbo is a provincial, national and international issue.

The Wilderness Committee has pledged to throw its weight behind the campaign to let the French public as well as Compagnie des Alpes know why this project is a bad idea for everyone.

The next event planned by the Jumbo Coalition is a Rock ‘n Blues benefit for Jumbo Wild! at The Royal on Saturday, June 9.