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West Kootenay EcoSociety amends petition challenging the incorporation of the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
August 7th, 2014

While firefighters from across Canada, and now Australia, battle to save forests throughout BC from spreading wildfires, the West Kootenay EcoSociety continues to fight to keep the scenic beauty of the Jumbo Glacier in the East Kootenay wild.

The Nelson-based non-profit society recently filed (Tuesday, August 5) an Amended Petition respecting its legal challenge to the incorporation of the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality (“JGMRM”).

In a media release the West Kootenay EcoSociety said the Amended Petition asks the BC Supreme Court to quash the incorporation of the municipality that has not residents and strike down the patchwork legislative amendments that purport to allow the creation of such an entity and clarifies EcoSociety’s legal argument challenging the incorporation of the JGMRM.

“In the government’s rush to pave the way for the Jumbo Resort, they’ve deeply undermined the democratic process,” said David Reid, Executive Director of the West Kootenay EcoSociety.

“Not only is the legislation inconsistent and incoherent, but we’re concerned that the Minister and Lieutenant Governor in Council have disregarded legal and constitutional requirements in creating the municipality.

“The Jumbo Resort Municipality is an unlawful and illegitimate body, and should not be moving forward with zoning and other potentially substantial actions until the court says otherwise,” Reid adds.

Reid said the West Kootenay EcoSociety is arguing for the Province to create a municipality in B.C., there must be a local population as well as a defined area.

According to the petition, a have a municipality with no residents contradicts the common law principles that municipalities must be democratic and must act in the public interest. 

The West Kootenay EcoSociety also asserts that the patchwork legislative amendments to the Local Government Act implemented through Bill 41 in 2012 create inconsistency and incoherence within the Local Government Act as well as other municipal legislation, most notably the Community Charter.

Reid said the amended petition was filed one day before the Jumbo Mountain Resort Municipality held a public hearing Wednesday on a zoning in the Jumbo Valley that would allow a day lodge and ski lifts.

The resort proponent Glacier Resorts Limited would still need permits from the Resort Branch of the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations in order to begin construction.

The Ministry has been clearing avalanche debris off the Jumbo road for over a week to allow access to the proposed resort area.

West Kootenay EcoSociety and other organizations are encouraging concerned citizens to camp at the Jumbo Road in August and September for the purposes of monitoring any ongoing development.

“We’re inviting people to a fun and family-friendly camp-out on Jumbo Creek forest service road,” Reid said.

“These campers will be the eyes and ears to make sure that the Environmental Assessment Office is aware if the developer moves forward before meeting all of its commitments to the BC public and to the environment.”

The Jumbo Resort was first proposed in 1991 and received environmental approval in 2004.

Jumbo Glacier Resort’s Master Development Agreement was approved in March 2012, following a 20-year review process and extensive consultation that informed and developed the Environmental Assessment Certificate, Resort Master Plan and Master Development Agreement.

In 2009, the Regional District of East Kootenay requested that the B.C. government incorporate Jumbo as a mountain resort municipality.

In May 2012, government amended the Local Government Act to clarify provincial authority to incorporate a mountain resort municipality whether or not there are residents in the area at the time of incorporation.

The year-round ski resort will be located at the foot of Jumbo Mountain and Jumbo Glacier, 55 km west of Invermere.

The $450-million resort is planned in three phases and will ultimately include 5,500 bed-units in a 104-hectare resort base area. It is projected to provide approximately 3,750 person years of construction employment and create 750 to 800 permanent full-time jobs.

BC law requires that the environmental certificate expire if the project has not “substantially started” by October 2014, ten years to the day from the initial approval.

No dates have been set on when the matter will head to court.

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