The provincial government intends to develop a mountain resort municipality to govern the Jumbo Glacier Resort real estate development that it recently approved, according to East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett.
Because the new municipality near Invermere will initially have no residents, the town council will be appointed by the provincial government and will have no elected officials until such time as there are enough residents to elect a council.
A municipality with no residents
“There will be a small pre-council of three to five people appointed to deal with the development,” Bennett told The Nelson Daily.
“There would be a representative of the province on this group but it would be chaired by a local person. This should be someone with local government experience, not a bureaucrat. It could be a retired mayor, for example.”
The provincial government can create mountain resort municipalities with town councils consisting of government appointees, under section 11 of the Local Government Act.
The legislation does not say how long the appointees can govern before there must be an election, how large the population must be for an election to be held, or how the physical boundaries of the new municipality would be determined.
Bennett said a larger provincially appointed body would advise the “pre-council.” It would “represent various interests including first nations, business, and environment.”
There are two mountain resort municipalities in the province at the moment—Whistler and Sun Peaks—but Jumbo would be unprecedented because, probably for several years, no one would live there year round.
The RDEK: a hands-off approach
The government is taking this direction because Regional District of East Kootenay several years ago declined jurisdiction over the development because it did not want to get involved in re-zoning the Jumbo Valley.
It asked the provincial government to take over the responsibility for the development and to create a mountain resort municipality.
The ball is in the developer’s court
Asked how soon this new municipality will be formed, Bennett said, “The ball is in the proponent’s (Jumbo Glacier Resort Ltd.’s) court. This will only happen when the project goes ahead, if it goes ahead. They have to raise the money and show us they are ready to start. They have to have all their permits in place, they have to start investing in the road.”
“There will have to be extended discussions with First Nations about the resort municipality,” said Bennett.