By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
The Ktunaxa question is still tying up the proposal approval process for Jumbo Glacier Resort as the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations “is currently concluding consultation” with the First Nation, says an NRO public affairs officer.
David Currie said Tuesday they could be engaged in talking with the Ktunaxa First Nation and the Shuswap Indian Band for some time over their interests in the region where a resort municipality — including over 5,000 hotel beds and 1,300 residences — has been proposed.
“Once that consultation is complete, the next step will be for the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations to make a decision regarding approval of a Master Development Agreement (MDA) with the proponent, Glacier Resorts Ltd.,” he said.
The Province has been engaged with the Ktunaxa over Jumbo since 2006, but in late November the First Nation sent a 50-member delegation to deliver the Qat'muk Declaration and Stewardship Principles to the Provincial Legislature in Victoria.
In the declaration the Ktunaxa Nation spelled out their spiritual connection to the Jumbo Glacier Valley and established a refuge area and a buffer area.
As a result of the declaration, the Province will now have to choose whether or not to challenge the Ktunaxa rights and title, possibly entering into a court battle.
The ultimate decision lies with the Natural Resource ministry but there is no specific date for when that will happen at this point.
The $450-million year round ski resort is planned for the high peaks and glaciers of the Jumbo Pass between Argenta and Invermere on 104 hectares at the foot of Jumbo Mountain and Jumbo Glacier in the Purcell Mountains.
It would include accommodation for 5,000 visitors and 750 beds for staff.
Numerous environmental groups have contended for nearly 20 years that the valley is important habitat for endangered grizzly bears, and is located within the largest “un-roaded” area in southern BC.
In August of 2009 the decision making power for the Jumbo Glacier Resort passed from the Regional District of East Kootenay to the province, then the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Investment.
The RDEK board of director’s vote went eight to seven in favour of asking the provincial government to designate the Jumbo Glacier a resort municipality.
The Ktunaxa have declared:
• That, to fully protect the most sacred core of the Qat’muk area, a refuge area consisting of the upper part of the Jumbo valley is hereby established;
• That a buffer area consisting of the remainder of the Jumbo watershed is hereby established so that the Grizzly Bear Spirit, as well as grizzly bears, can thrive within and around Qat’muk;
• That the Ktunaxa Nation will share Qat’muk with non-Ktunaxa when such use is respectful of Ktunaxa spiritual values and consistent with our Qat’muk Stewardship Principles; and
• That the Ktunaxa Nation Council will prepare a management plan for the refuge and buffer areas based on the Qat’muk Stewardship Principles and in consultation with other governments and stakeholders.
The Ktunaxa Nation said they will continue to share the designated refuge area and buffer area with non-Ktunaxa when such use is respectful of Ktunaxa spiritual values and consistent with their Qat’muk Stewardship Principles.
The refuge and buffer areas will not be shared with those who engage in activities that harm or appropriate the spiritual nature of the area. These activities include, but are not limited to:
• the construction of buildings or structures with permanent foundations;
• permanent occupation of residences.