The proposed Jumbo ski resort in the Purcell Mountains west of Invermere is dead.
On the weekend, Glacier Resorts Ltd. announced that it relinquished all development rights to the surrounding area following a pair of agreements with the provincial and federal governments, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which acted on behalf of the Ktunaxa Nation.
The agreement will allow for the creation of an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA), which will be led and governed by the Ktunaxa Nation.
In a statement, Glacier Resorts Ltd. said it recognized the vision of the Ktunaxa Nation Council to see the region protected.
“We worked for many years to develop a project that would be transformational for tourism in BC,” said Celso Boscariol, Chairman of the Board of Glacier Resorts Ltd., “however, we believe as a conserved place the Jumbo Valley will still provide inspiration and joy to those who will visit it to explore nature.”
Glacier Resorts Ltd. has terminated a Master Development Agreement with the province and discontinued pending legal action to the Supreme Court of Canada. The case would have challenged a provincial government decision five years ago that determined the resort project was not substantially started, which effectively cancelled a necessary development permit, grinding all work to a halt.
So what does this mean for the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality, which was created by the provincial government eight years ago as part of the necessary procedure to approve a Master Development Agreement?
The point was raised by Gerry Wilkie, the Electoral G director for the Regional District of East Kootenay, during a celebration of the announcement at the Ktunaxa Nation government building on Saturday.
Wilkie’s electoral area jurisdiction in the Columbia Valley borders the Jumbo municipal boundary.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, steps are now being taken to obtain decisions needed to disincorporate the municipality and return the governance of the region into an electoral area under the jurisdiction of the RDEK.
Jumbo is a unique case; under the Local Government Act, residents must petition for disincorporation, however, since Jumbo doesn’t have any residents, a legislation change will likely be required, according to the statement.
Greg Deck, who was appointed mayor of the Jumbo municipality by the provincial government in 2012, declined to comment on the announcement.
Though the municipality has defined boundaries, it has no residents or infrastructure.
The municipality received a start-up grant of $200,000 to establish a administrative structure in 2013, and received a further $70,000 from the Small Community Grant funding two years later.
The effort to develop a ski resort in the area dates back to 1991, when Glacier Resorts Ltd. filed its first formal proposal.
That touched off years of negotiations with the Ktunaxa and studies and plans needed to obtain the necessary permits.
In 2010, the Ktunaxa issued the Qat’muk Declaration, affirming the area’s religious significance and establishing a set of stewardship principles.
When the province approved a Master Development Agreement in 2012, the Ktunaxa took the matter all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing the nation hadn’t been adequately consulted and that the development of the resort would violate their religious freedoms.
However, the Supreme Court of Canada majority opinion ruled against their case.
In a separate matter running concurrently, the province determined the project was not substantially started after an October 2014 deadline, which essentially revoked a Environmental Assessment Certificate — a permit required to pursue the development.
Glacier Resort filed a judicial review, which ruled in the company’s favour, however, it was overturned in the B.C. Court of Appeal after it was challenged by the provincial government.
By October 2014, on-site construction included the concrete floor slab of a day lodge, a concrete floor slab of a service building, foundation for chair lift anchors and various bridge structures and road work necessary to access the site.
However, aspects of the project were considered in non-compliance under the terms identified in the Environmental Assessment Certificate.
Glacier Resorts Ltd. envisioned a development with a ski base covering 105 hectares and ski-able terrain covering 5,000 hectares with elevations up to 3,400 metres.
With a file from Carolyn Grant/Kimberley Bulletin