The long-proposed Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort project may be at a standstill, but the issue continues to draw attention, most recently on March 14th when it was subject of what may be the largest single petition ever presented in the provincial legislature.
More than 61,000 signatures adorned a petition presented by Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald and Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall (both members of the opposition NDP) during question period in Victoria on Tuesday. The day prior, the petition had been presented by local environmental group Wildsight and apparel company Patagonia Inc. (the two entities that organized the petition) to Transboundary Ktunaxa Nation leadership in Cranbrook. The Ktunaxa maintain that the upper Jumbo Valley is part of Qat’muk, an area they hold sacred. The petition is making headlines as a judgment from the Supreme Court of Canada is pending on the Ktunaxa’s legal case against the B.C. government’s decision to create the as-of-yet unbuilt Jumbo resort.
The petition asks Premier Christy Clark to say no to any development in the Jumbo Valley and give the area permanent protection.
“It was an incredibly powerful moment,” Wildsight executive director Robyn Duncan told The Pioneer, speaking from Victoria shortly after the petition had been officially presented. “They’ve said they think it is the largest (petition to the provincial government) ever.”
About 100 to 150 people — including many longtime Jumbo opponents from the Columbia Valley — gathered in Cranbrook on March 13th to see the petition presented to the Ktunaxa; and about 30 people (some of them coastal residents with second homes in the Kootenay region) gathered for a rally outside the provincial parliament on March 14th.
Mr. Macdonald confirmed in a press release that Victoria may never have seen such a petition, saying he and Ms. Mungall “brought forward two large boxes of signatures to the provincial legislature, easily the largest petition I’ve seen during my time as MLA.”
Ms. Duncan told The Pioneer that longstanding BC Liberal support for the project may no longer matter, and that with work on the project halted at the moment, the party may simply walk back from its position on the resort, especially with a provincial election looming in May.
“I think we’re at a new point in the campaign. It’s not so much that I’m hopeful about the B.C. government, although there may soon be some big changes in the political arena in B.C., but I feel the tide is turning in Canada. I think there’s a recognition that there’s a need for reconciliation, and a need for a new model for conservation that honours spiritual values as well as ecological values,” she said. “All signs point to the (Jumbo) project being dead in the water. What we want now is permanent protection to seal the deal.”
“The fight to protect our remaining wild spaces and spiritual connection to the land has stirred global attention. The stacks of petition signatures from around the world, juxtaposed against familiar faces in the crowd at the Ktunaxa offices on Monday (March 14th), brought home to me the universal significance of the Jumbo Valley. The question now is whether the BC Liberal government will listen, respect and finally say no to this waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Wildsight Invermere branch president Baiba Morrow.
A decision from the Supreme Court of Canada case is expected later this spring, sometime between April and June.