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Assessment shows Jumbo resort foundations put down in dangerous avalanche path

Colin Payne
By Colin Payne
April 16th, 2015

The Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality (JGRM) was dealt a blow recently when an avalanche assessment ordered by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) revealed building foundations laid down last fall were placed in a dangerous avalanche path.

The EAO ordered the avalanche assessment in late 2014 after it was brought to light that the resort’s day lodge area could be located in a known avalanche path. East Kootenay News Online Weekly (E-Know) reported the results of the assessment earlier this week, which stated that the risk assessment showed the Pink Panther avalanche path affects the locations of the foundations that were poured last fall as the resort tried to meet its deadline for “substantial development.”

According to the report, prepared by Dynamic Avalanche Consulting out of Revelstoke, the Pink Panther avalanche path can produce up to size four slides that can take out buildings or forested areas up to four hectares in size. The report notes that the service building foundation is located in a high risk-area, while the majority of the day lodge foundation is sitting in a moderate risk zone.

The report recommends that a structure built on the service building foundation shouldn’t be used in winter and should be built to withstand impact, while the day lodge could be considered a temporarily occupied structure as long as it’s only used during limited work hours in the day.
As a result of the report, the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality (JGRM) was forced to amend its official community plan (OCP) earlier this month to account for the avalanche risk.

The resort is currently awaiting a decision from Minister of Environment, Mary Polak as to whether it has met the coal of “substantial development” required to keep its environmental assessment certificate.

The B.C. Ministry of Environment said no comment was available as to whether this new information would affect the decision and told the Nelson Daily the avalanche risk assessment report would not be publicly released until compliance has been determined, in an effort to ensure administrative fairness.

WKES may use assessment in court case

David Reid, executive director of the West Kootenay EcoSociety (WKES) told the Nelson Daily that the report was released by the JGRM, and while he hasn’t had a chance to review it thoroughly, he’s not surprised by the results of the assessment.

“It’s no big surprise with regard to what we’ve seen as this project has rolled out,” Reid said. “They’ve had the cart before the horse. They’ve failed to take precautions to protect taxpayers and the environment by doing a proper assessment before doing the official community plan. If the province hadn’t requested the assessment from the developer, the municipality would never have known about the avalanche risk until after the OCP was done.

“I find it outrageous that this avalanche risk wasn’t done a long time ago.”

The WKES currently has a request for a judicial inquiry in process around the province’s decision to permit the establishment of the JGRM, and he notes this avalanche assessment may become part of that court case when it resumes in May.

“In theory, this case is only supposed to cover events that led up to the creation of the municipality,” Reid notes. “However the province has brought in a bunch of evidence referring to things that happened after the decision was made. So that brings up the possibility to (raise the avalanche assessment)”

Image via dinlaroche, Flickr Creative Commons

Categories: GeneralIssues