Today’s Poll

Kootenay MLAs outraged at government $1 Million commitment to Jumbo

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
April 3rd, 2014

Two Kootenay MLA’s attempted to turn up the heat on the Liberal government this week in the BC Legislature, chastising Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes for committing $1 Million the new Jumbo municipality.

New Democrat MLA’s Michelle Mungall and Norm MacDonald asked why the Liberal government was committing money to a municipality with no residents while healthcare; education and rescue equipment funding requests in the Kootenays are turned down.

“We now see that the fake municipality is being potentially funded by taxpayers to the tune of a million dollars over the next five years,” Kootenay MLA Norm Macdonald said in the Legislature Monday.

“We’re asking for money for dialysis in my area. We’re asking for money so that the TransCanada has a highway rescue vehicle. Does the minister not see the absurdity of then giving $1.25 million for a mayor and council of a town with no people, no building and no investors?”

In November 2012, then Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett, announced that Cabinet had approved the incorporation of Jumbo as a mountain resort municipality.

Bennett, who said the project had gone through the most exhaustive public consultation in B.C. history, appointed a municipal council for a term ending Nov. 30, 2014, and an interim corporate officer has also been named and will serve until the first council meeting of the new municipality.

Jumbo’s first mayor and councilors are Greg Deck, Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander.

The interim corporate officer at the time was Phil Taylor, responsible for ensuring that the municipality is operational by its incorporation date of Feb. 19, 2013.

Since the announcement, the current council has spent $250,000 to get the municipality up and running.

Now the Liberal government has earmarked an additional $200,000 over the next five years.

 “The government said that they could not afford $1 million to help victims of the Johnson’s Landing mudslide with a buyout program similar to the one offered to North Vancouver residents in 2005,” Nelson/Creston MLC Mungall said.

“They also said that they have no money to run the CT scanner at Kootenay Lake Hospital 24/7 or literacy programs in the region or for Trafalgar School and Selkirk College.”

Minister Oakes responded saying the initial money was provided as start-up capital for the municipality.

Money that is available to all municipalities through small community grants to assist local governments in providing services and hiring qualified staff.

Grants are based on a formula that factors in the base amount and other information.

Minister Oakes said in 2013 Invermere received $280,402 through small community grants, Radium Hot Springs received $182,758, and Canal Flats received $204,679.

“All local governments can put their application for it forward,” Minister Oakes responded in the Legislature.

“But let me ask the member opposite,” Minister Oakes added, “when Whistler was formed, when Sun Peaks was formed…. These are good investments for the province of British Columbia. Tourism is important for the province of British Columbia. And we are committed to growing the economy of British Columbia.”

Minister Oakes said Whistler was incorporated in 1975 using the same game plan.

The government at the time was the NDP.

The Jumbo expansion would see North America’s only year-round glacier based resort and longest natural snow vertical drop.

The resort will be in the Purcell Mountains, 57 km west of Invermere, on the site of an old sawmill.

Minister Oakes said the $450 million resort will ultimately include 5,500 bed units, and a 104-hectare resort base area and provide approximately 3,750 person-years of construction employment and create 750 to 800 permanent, full-time jobs.

Categories: Politics

Other News Stories