By Dan Walton
As the deadline approaches for Jumbo Glacier Resort to have its environmental certificate renewed, the Ministry of Environment further explained some of the deadline’s intricacies.
In making its decision to renew the certificate, the ministry will consult with three parties.
“[The] Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) will be inviting Glacier Resorts Ltd. (GRL), Ktunaxa Nation Council and the Shuswap Indian Bands to provide any relevant information they wish EAO to consider in its determination as to whether the project has been substantially started as of October 12, 2014,” said Ministry of Environment spokesperson David Karn.
“This process will take some time, however for the benefit of all parties the process will be conducted as efficiently as possible, while providing appropriate time for information gathering and analysis,” said Mr. Karn.
Once a verdict has been reached, a letter will be sent to Glacier Resorts Ltd. by either the Minister of Environment or the Associate Deputy Minister of EAO, he said.
During the time after the October 12th deadline but before the decision, the legality of construction will be contingent upon the outcome of the Environmental Assessment Certificate.
“If Glacier Resorts Ltd. decides to work past October 12th, 2014 they are, potentially, at their own risk of constructing without an Environmental Assessment Certificate,” he said. “If it is determined the project was not substantially started, any work done after October 12, 2014 would be in violation of section 8 of the Environmental Assessment Act.”
On both sides of the issue, many groups are attempting to influence the province’s decision.
Opposition to renewing the environmental certificate was expressed by the Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. (FMCBC) on Tuesday, October 7th, which through a press release, gave two reasons why it thinks the Environmental Assessment Office should deny the project’s renewal. They claim that the quality wilderness areas for recreation will be irreversibly damaged, and that the development would restrict recreationists’ accessibility to the Controlled Recreation Area associated with the planned Jumbo resort – which is contrary to the FMCBC’s mandate.
“This will result in reduced public access which is of major concern to the FMCBC and our members who strive to maintain and increase public access to the backcountry,” reads the press release.
If it is decided that the Environmental Assessment Certificate will not be renewed, Glacier Resorts Ltd. will not have the option to appeal the decisio through the Environmental Assessment Act, Mr. Karn said, but a judicial review of the decision could be requested.
Opponents of the Jumbo Glacier Resort project held a rally at the confluence of Jumbo and Toby Creeks (kilometre 0 of the Jumbo Forest Service Road) on the morning of Saturday, October 4th to protest the ongoing construction work in the Jumbo Valley by Glacier Resorts Ltd.
The rally attracted nearly 80 people, many from Invermere, but also some from Kimberley, Golden, Nelson, Slocan, and Kelowna. Local environmental group Wildsight took credit for co-hosting the rally along with other Kootenay region environmental groups, such as the West Kootenay Eco Society.