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 Posted in    |  on November 23rd, 2012  |  by

Resort municipality created for Jumbo

The spire of Jumbo Mountain looms over what could become the townsite of the new Mountain Resort Municipality of Jumbo, which was written into existence on Monday, November 19th. The provincial order-in-council also named three valley residents as the appointed mayor and council of the new community. The move brings the proposed 5,925-hectare ski resort one step closer to reality, despite concerns over the loss of local say on the land use decision. Pioneer file photo.

By Greg Amos
Pioneer Staff

After a 22-year effort in the face of strongly divided public opinion across the East Kootenays, the 5,925-hectare proposed Jumbo Glacier ski resort has been cleared for takeoff.

Using the powers created under Bill 41 in May, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett announced on Tuesday, November 20th the creation of a mountain resort municipality to encompass the Jumbo site.

“The choice of this form of governance is about planting the seed now that has the potential to grow over time into a place where people can work and live,” said Mr. Bennett, who also appointed a three-member council that will stay intact at Jumbo until at least November 30th, 2014.

Under the order-in-council from the provincial cabinet, valley entrepreneur Nancy Huganin and Invermere’s Steve Ostrander, a career forester, will serve as councillors under Greg Deck, who served as Radium Hot Springs’ first mayor from 1990 to 2008, and as Regional District of East Kootenay chair from 2002 to 2008.

Since 1996, the regional district has been mainly in support of the idea of using the mountain resort municipality structure for Jumbo. That position was last affirmed in 2009, though it’s been in flux since the mid-2000s.

“If we had chosen to not use the governance model requested by local governments, the regional district and local taxpayers would’ve been saddled with years of additional controversy, expense and uncertainty,” Mr. Bennett told media. “Hopefully now we have an opportunity to heal and move on.”

Deck will draw on $200,000 of provincial funding to get the municipality established. It’s an initial requirement in an area that has no population, no tax base, and no infrastructure — a situation Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald called “a shocking mismanagement of the powers that have been vested in this government.”

“I’ve not spoken to anyone outside the BC Liberal party who thinks that this legislation makes sense,” said Macdonald in a statement. “To create a town where there are no residents, to appoint a council that may never face election, and do this with no real possibility that a resort will be built is ridiculous.”

Until the council is inaugurated at their first meeting at a yet-to-be-determined location on February 19th, 2013, the community will be managed by interim corporate officer Phil Taylor, who most recently worked as chief administrative officer for the town of Golden.

The Jumbo site, located 55 kilometres west of Invermere, purports to offer world-class, year-round glacier skiing over 23 lifts, and at full build-out, would employ 750 people, about 250 more than now work at Panorama Mountain Village. As yet, the status of investors is unclear for the development, which over the past two decades has received support from Social Credit, NDP and BC Liberal governments.

During that time, the project received an Environmental Assessment certificate (in 2004), a Resort Master Plan (in 2007), and a Master Development Agreement (this March). Just two other resorts in B.C. have been given mountain resort municipality status: Whistler in 1975 and Sun Peaks in 2010.

The announcement comes 10 days before the Ktunaxa Nation planned to file a judicial review on the process behind the approval of Jumbo Glacier Resort’s Master Development Agreement, and the same day as the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society’s annual general meting.

“This once again shows the disdain demonstrated by the B.C. government towards our spiritual beliefs and the foundations of our culture,” said Ktunaxa Nation chair Kathryn Teneese in a statement. The Ktunaxa know the Jumbo area as Qat muk, and consider it a culturally important home to the grizzly bear spirit.

Bob Campsall of the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society said the fact the municipality and resort could be created without a public hearing is “an absolute disgrace.”

“It will be very difficult for any other government to reverse this thing, due to potential lawsuits that could arise,” he added. “You can be sure [the proponent] would be claiming damages and lost income.”

Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, who in September spearheaded a succesful Union of B.C. Municipalities motion to oppose the mountain resort municipality provisions created under Bill 41, said the decision is disappointing, but not surprising.

“It’s pretty clear the government was trying to get this announced prior to the Ktunaxa’s judicial review announcement,” he said. “I think their goal is to have the zoning approved and everything done before they lose power.”

Despite his council’s apprehensions, Taft said Invermere will try to work with the new municipality.

“All three of those people I know, and I really respect Steve and Nancy,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that being loyal to a government or a political party can result in someone getting a lot of appointments and positions of power.”

Jumbo won’t be Mr. Deck’s only new undertaking in the New Year; on January 1st, he also begins as chair of the Columbia Basin Trust, where he currently sits as vice-chair. Deck said he doesn’t believe the two roles will cause a conflict.

“The comments that I heard from those on the board who are opposed to [Jumbo] were essentially that they think that I am a reasonable choice to take on a job that they wish didn’t exist,” he said.

New councillor Steve Ostrander said he was chosen by Mr. Deck to join the council, and will aim to focus on ensuring the Jumbo valley remains accessible to all forms of recreation as the resort is developed.

“I’ve never been part of a council before, and I’m not really familiar with it, so it will be part of a learning experience for me,” he said. “I’m excited, because I’m personally quite interested in the whole process. I’m not so excited about the fact I know there are people who are opposed to anything up there.”

Email: greg@cv-pioneer.com
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Editor Greg Amos hails from White Rock, B.C., and recently arrived in the Columbia Valley after five years as a reporter and editor on the Sunshine Coast and in the Peace Region of B.C. He's looking forward to exploring the trails, ski slopes, mountains and rock faces of the Columbia Valley. Greg has a Journalism Certificate from Langara College and B.Sc. in Geography from UBC.

9 Responses to Resort municipality created for Jumbo

  1. monroe says:

    Pretty fair article there, Greg.

  2. Jon says:

    Im for the whole Jumbo development but certainly choosing Greg Deck is a mistake and a massive conflict of interest. It creates a monopoly on businesses.

  3. CleanAir says:

    I have been watching the information on Jumbo for about a year now and it keeps getting more interesting. I think your article was as neutral as I have seen yet. There is no doubt there will be an environmental impact but minimal as far as human intrusion into the wilderness goes in comparison to mining and logging. That valley has been well logged and more to go. Mining may even happen not too far away. Tourism may be a saviour for that valley someday as keeping the valley and the route there will get a high priority “beautiful and pure” protected status.

  4. Caiya says:

    I am completely horrified that is project has moved forward. Where are our priorities people?

  5. Beth says:

    OMG! I’m sick. Bill Bennett has managed to find a dirty loop hole to contribute public moneys to a private enterprise. and sells it as an opportunity to heal. Moron sweetheart, moron – and much, much worse.
    I see the only comments you have approved are happy, happy isn’t this wonderful comments. Sick, I am just sick where is democracy and WHERE is journalism?

    • David Pacey says:

      You ask a very good question Beth; ” Where is democracy and where is journalism?”

      The answer Beth is staring you in the face on these pages.

      It is obvious that you don’t agree with the decision of the duly elected majority in the establishment of this Resort Muncipalities Act. So be it. But then we have to understand that that decision is democracy in itself and acting in and of itself. For you and others to lament that democracy is dead when in fact democracy simply does not agree with your position, does not negate that democracy exists but rather it proves that in fact it does exist.

      And Journalism is where? Why Beth, it is in the pages of every newspaper, magazine and e paper throughout North America and the Columbia Valley. Good jounalism has been evident throughout the history of this paper, both on line and in print from this paper’s inception as shown by the increase in distribution and readership. It is evident in the accolades for different editors and publishers for this paper’s past and current editor and publisher.

      Sorry if you cannot identify or agree with the results of a news item or the rendition of that same news item, but your opinion of an event and the reporting of same, does not make or break either democracy or journalism in it’s existance.

      Both have been strong and healthy throughout the valley for decades. That Beth, is where is democracy and journalism – throughout the entire Columbia Valley for the last decade that I have been involved here.

  6. Anne Jardine says:

    Columbia Basin Trust is a crown corporation that was established in 1995 to manage and disburse the assets generated by royalties and entitlements that come to BC through the Columbia River Treaty, a joint agreement between the US and Canada. These assets flow directly from the use of the river for hydroelectric power and flood management. Eighteen years ago, these assets started as a modest couple of million, and since then they have gradually grown to many millions. The Trust has become an enormous financial engine in the Kootenays.

    The Columbia Basin Trust was a revolutionary idea. Its founding members shared a long-range vision about renewable resource benefits. They structured the fund in such a way that the growing assets would be re-invested in the region so that the residents of the Columbia Basin would directly benefit from the wealth generated by the river. The revenues would create and maintain the dams and infrastructures of course, but beyond that, some of the funds would be used to seed other social, economic, cultural and environmental enterprises around the region.

    Mr. Greg Deck was one of those visionary founding members, and he has continued to serve as a Columbia Basin Trust director ever since. His efforts have made the Basin a better place. It was fitting that he be named as the Chairman of the Board. His depth of knowledge and skills will be needed in the negotiating of the Columbia River Treaty renewal as it begins in 2014.

    Is Mr. Deck in conflict in his new appointment as Mayor of the Jumbo “Municipality”?

    The commitments of these two new responsibilities as Chairman of CBT and Mayor of Jumbo may compete for Mr. Deck’s time and attention and that may mean he will have to make difficult choices about which is most important. Is this a conflict of interest?

    Possible conflicts might occur if the Mayor arranges for Columbia Basin Trust revenues or assets to be used to advance the growth of the Jumbo Resort venture. Because of the Hydro connection with CBT, would the contracting of electrical power lines into the Jumbo be a contentious matter, for instance?

    The temptations and opportunities for personal gain or corruption by favours to friends or contracts to business associates are certainly abundant. One of the most thorny issues of conflict is the one that comes from public perception. Will Mr. Deck be seen as neutral and incorruptible?

    Another aspect of conflict is in accountability. As Mayor, with no electors, just whom does Mr. Deck serve? The real estate industry? The building trades? The BC Cabinet? The residents of the Regional District? The greater public? Are these interests in conflict?

    Perhaps Mr. Deck’s diplomacy and experience will protect him from the situational dangers of conflict, but I think he should choose between honours, avoid conflicts, and relinquish one of his leadership roles.

  7. Nick Berzins says:

    Invermere relies on: electricity produced somewhere else; minerals extracted somewhere else; and petroleum produced somewhere else. If those “somewhere elses” had local veto authority over Crown resources (and don’t bet they didn’t want veto authority), you and I would be huddled together in animal skins rubbing two sticks together to start a fire. I am neither for nor against this project. But I am definitely against hypocrisy of Jumbo proportions.

  8. Pingback: Harper Government Invests in Improvements to Community Infrastructure in ... + more Radium Hot Springs British Columbia news - Canada News Net

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