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Environmental groups line up to cheer government's decision that Jumbo Project 'not substantially started'

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
June 19th, 2015

Jumbo Glacier Resorts Ltd has been dealt a huge blow Thursday after the Environment Ministry said the project cannot proceed with unless a new certificate is obtained.

The announcement made by Environment Minister Mary Polak has determined that the Jumbo Glacier Resort project has not been substantially started.

“I determined that the project had not been substantially started, and therefore the environmental certificate has been deemed expired on October 12, 2014,” said Environment Minister Mary Polak.

The minister was required to make a determination because the Environmental Assessment Act requires that all approved projects must be substantially started within the time limit set out in the certificate or the certificate expires.

Documentation related to the minister’s decision can be found at:

“We’re very happy with the decision, and we’re grateful to Minister Polak for doing the right and reasonable thing,” said David Reid of West Kootenay EcoSociety, who had joined other groups in protesting to keep Jumbo Wild for the past 25 years.

“Hundreds of people have worked for over two decades to see this terrible idea put to an end.

“Now it remains to make sure that the Jumbo Valley stays wild forever,” Reid added.

Wildsight, an environmental group based in the East Kootenay, thanked the overwhelming public opposition and a failure to meet environmental requirements.

“We are overjoyed with the province’s decision,” said Robyn Duncan of Wildsight. “This is the only reasonable outcome for this beleaguered project.”

The decision means its back to the drawing board for Jumbo Glacier Resort.
That news is music to the ears of a major proponent of the project Invemere Mayor Gerry Taft.

“I think it was the right decision for province,” Taft told CBC Radio West Thursday.

“It was pretty clear what was done on the site at Jumbo involved a small amount of concrete being put, arguably, in the wrong spot.”

“And if this was to become the measuring stick for substantial commencement of large scale projects in British Columbia, it would have set a very strong and negative precedent, for just ski resorts but for other projects like mines,” Taft added.

The Jumbo Glacier Resort project is a year-round ski resort development in the Jumbo Creek valley, 55 km west of Invermere.

The estimated 104 hectare resort base area, was scheduled to consist of a  hotel with 6,250 bed units (which includes 750 bed units for staff accommodation), condominium vacation homes, and associated amenities.

The Controlled Recreation Area, which includes areas licenced for ski runs and connecting territory, encompasses approximately 5,925 hectares and includes lift-serviced access to several nearby glaciers at an elevation of up to 3,400 metres.

The ministry statement said substantially started decisions are considered on a case-by-case basis.

In making her decision, the minister focused on the physical activities that had taken place at the project site. In this case, the minister determined that the physical activities undertaken on the various components did not meet the threshold of a substantially started project.

In making the determination, Minister Polak considered:

  • submissions from Glacier Resorts Ltd., the Ktunaxa Nation Council and the Shuswap Indian Band;
  • guidance from the court decision in Taku River Tlingit First Nation v. British Columbia;
  • the Environmental Assessment Office’s substantially started determination report; and
  • her own observations from a visit to the Jumbo Glacier Resort project site on Oct. 11, 2014.

The minister considered information submitted by the Ktunaxa Nation Council and the Shuswap Indian Band because the project is located in their asserted traditional territories.    

This is the second road block in a few months for the project.

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

The Province issued an environmental assessment certificate for the project on Oct. 12, 2004.

As a result of an extension issued in 2009, the expiry date of the certificate was Oct. 12, 2014.

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