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Jumbo Glacier Resort project put on hold after being found in non-compliance with permit condition​

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
April 26th, 2015

Call it a major victory for opponents to a ski resort in the Jumbo Glacier area or just another bump in what has been a long road for the Glacier Resorts Ltd.

Glacier Resorts Ltd has been told by the The Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) to halt construction on two buildings until new safety conditions can be met in the event of an avalanche.

“First, I am ordering, in the attached Order, that GRL cease construction of structures in the Day Lodge Location and Service Building Location in order to minimize the extent of the non-compliances,” Manager of Compliance, Autumn Cousins said in the April 24 letter to Glacier Resorts co-owner Oberto Oberti.

Cousins added that due to no immediate risk to the environment or human safety, and there are avenues under the Act GRL may pursue, there would not be any additional immediate enforcement.

The cease order comes on the heels of a 45-page report by Dynamic Avalanche Consulting Ltd.

The Revelstoke company said previous avalanches would have affected vegetation close to the propose day lodge, even showering the structure with “light powder flow.”

The Dynamic report said while there is no evidence an avalanche would reach the lodge, similar flows show snow may come to within 15 meters of the structure posing a high-risk threat.

A non-profit environmental organization based in the East Kootenay, Wildsight, reacted positively to the announcement.

“I think the government had no choice but to recognize Jumbo Glacier Resorts’ non-compliance to Environmental Assessment Certificate conditions,” said John Bergenske, Conservation Director of Wildsight, voicing the sentiment of community and environmental groups across the Kootenays.

“The developer’s ill conceived last minute attempt to create a footprint in the Jumbo Valley has failed.”

“I look forward to the Minister’s decision on whether the project is “substantially started.” There should be no question in the minds of reasonable people that the project not been started. The little activity that has taken place will require remediation measures.” 

Some of the recommendations by the Dynamic Avalanche Consulting Report include:

  • Structures should be reinforced to withstand pressures from possible avalanche pressures.
  • Buildings constructed at the service building location should not be used or routinely accessed during the winter season. 
  • An evacuation plan to reduce the risk to workers and public safety be created both within and outside of the building.The day lodge should also be reinforced.
  • Fixed remote exploders must be installed to reduce the potential avalanche hazard.
  • The Day Lodge should be reinforced to protect against avalanches

For the past 20 years, Glacier Resorts Ltd has been trying to build North America’s only year-round glacier based resort based in the Purcell Mountains, 57 kilometers west of Invermere, on the site of an old sawmill.

The completed ski resort will feature up to 23 lifts, a 3,000 metre-high gondola and spectacular world-class views.

The project has faced many challenges and protests during the past 20 years.

Most recent was a court challenge by the West Kootenay EcoSociety that was destined to go before a judge in February.

However, even before the case was heard the West Kootenay EcoSociety sought, and was granted an adjournment after receiving an amended response and new evidence from lawyers for the municipality at the eleventh hour.

Opponents of the resort hope this latest decision is one step closer to killing the project once and for all.

“The concerns of the community and the Ktunaxa Nation have yet to be put to rest, but this determination brings us closer to keeping the Jumbo Valley wild,” said Bergenske.

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