Jumbo showdown brewing as developer plans to pour concrete
A potential showdown is brewing in the Jumbo Valley as rumours of concrete pouring on the Jumbo Glacier Resort development have protestors heading up for a rally they hope will help keep the valley wild.
The controversial resort development that would see a luxury resort municipality with as many as 20 ski lifts built high in the Purcell Mountains between Meadow Creek and Invermere is under pressure to show that construction has “substantially started” by October 12 when its environmental assessment certificate will expire for the second time in its 24-year history – dealing a major setback to a project that has been dogged by delays since it was first conceived.
Construction was delayed last year after heavy rains took out a bridge on the Jumbo Forest Service Road that leads to the development.
But according to the West Kootenay Eco Society (WKES), construction could be starting on October 4, when trucks are expected to head to the site and start pouring 15 truckloads worth of concrete in the alpine for the foundation of the resort’s day lodge.
The prediction is based on recent roadwork observed by the Jumbo Wild Monitoring Camp established on the road.
David Reid, executive director of the WKES says he’s not 100 percent sure the trucks will actually show up, but either way a large contingent of those opposed to the project will be on hand in case they do.
“I think it’s been snowing up there in the valley and it’s not clear if they finished the road work they were supposed to do to make access for concrete trucks possible,” Reid says.
“They know now that we know and we’re planning to be there. So for a number of reasons we’re expecting they won’t show up tomorrow . . . We’ve been fighting this battle for 24 years and we’re not going to sit at home. We’re going to be there on site to say our peace if the concrete trucks do roll by.”
When asked what they would do if the trucks do show up, Reid said the group would simply try to make its voice heard and wouldn’t engage in civil disobedience.
“We’ll be there to document it,” he notes. “And whether it’s in court or the court of public opinion, it’s going to come back to bite the developer in the long run.”
Tom Oberti of Glacier Resorts Limited (GRL) told The Nelson Daily he’s confident things will come together in time for the deadline.
“We are confident that the project will have achieved a substantial start by mid-October and we are being diligent in meeting all the conditions,” Oberti says.
“Keep in mind that not all of the 195 conditions [set out in the environmental assessment certificate] are pre-construction. Some relate to construction operations, etc.
“GRL is obviously committed to this project and has been for 24 years because it will be the most amazing sightseeing and skiing destination on the continent.
Nowhere else in North America is it possible to ski and view glaciers at 3,400 metres.”
That being said, Reid notes that even if the resort is able to pass the October 12 milestone, it still has a long road ahead before it becomes a reality.
“October 12 is not the final turning point,” Reid says. “There’s so much work they need to have done before they begin actual operations. It’s an important step in the long history, but it certainly won’t be the last.”
Jumbo is currently facing two legal challenges, one from the West Kootenay Eco Society that challenges the establishment of Jumbo’s status as a resort municipality with a mayor and council but no constituents – and another from the Ktunaxa Nation, over their claim that GRL did not consult them about development in the heart of their traditional territory.
The WKES also recently started a letter campaign to the province asking minister of Environment Mary Polak to issue a stop work order for Jumbo due to their claim that the developer isn’t carrying out the project in accordance with the environmental assessment certificate.