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West Kootenay EcoSociety takes legal action to stop new Jumbo municipality

The West Kootenay EcoSociety said it plans to submit an application in BC Provincial Court Monday afternoon in Nelson for a Judicial Review of the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality near Invermere.

West Kootenay EcoSociety said it will argue the appointment of municipal councilors without any electors violates the constitution and various provincial statutes.

“Fundamentally it’s about democracy,” Executive Director of the West Kootenay EcoSociety, David Reid told The Nelson Daily.

“The consitution allows the province quite a bit of leeway in terms of setting up municipalities but there’s a common understanding about what municipalities are.”

“I think most Canadians if you ask what a municipality is, it’s a place where people live and here the province has created a municipality where there isn't anyone living . . . a place where there’s no infrastructure and no residents to consult for the city council,” Reid adds.

The appointment Jumbo's first council — Mayor Greg Deck and and councilors are Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander — caught most everyone off guard when the Liberal government, through an Order in Council, made the decision on November 19, 2012.

Reid said this new council was created after the BC Government made significant changes to the Local Government Act through Bill 41 on the last day of the spring session in 2012. 

The new law removed the previous reqiurement that resort municipalities have residents and that the residents support the creation of the municipality.

The Union of BC Municipalities and the Regional District of Central Kootenay passed motions opposing the changes.

And despite not having a single human being living in the new municipality, the three-person council is set to hold its inaugural meeting Tuesday in Radium where it will use the earmarked $260,000 of taxpayer money to support the creation of the muncipality and its operation.

“My understanding the first meeting moving ahead for the new council will deal with what they need to do to make a municipality,” Reid explained.

“My hope is they realize they’re now under additional scrutiny and they won’t do anything that makes it difficult for the courts to undo when the court decides in our favour.”

For more than 22 years the West Kootenay EcoSociety has been a long-standing member of the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild and opposed the idea of a new ski resort since 1994.

The EcoSociety is filing the application at 2 p.m. at the Nelson Courthouse Monday with the support and cooperation of the coalition, and with funding from West Coast Environmental Law.

“Honestly I hope this and all the other things people are doing around the province to prevent this project from moving forward will send a clear message and the project will stop,” Reid said.

“I can’t say for sure that even if we win the project will be stopped once and for all but this is just unacceptable to us and the people in the Kootenays to have this process move forward the way it’s moving forward.”