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 Posted in    |  on May 31st, 2013  |  by

UBCM opts not to get involved in Jumbo petition

West Kootenay EcoSociety executive director David Reid stands outside the Nelson courthouse Monday afternoon after submitting an application for a judicial review of the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality. - Bob Hall photo

West Kootenay EcoSociety executive director David Reid stands outside the Nelson courthouse Monday afternoon after submitting an application for a judicial review of the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality. – Bob Hall photo

By Steve Hubrecht
Pioneer Staff

The Union of B.C. Municipalities has decided not to get involved in a West Kootenay Ecosociety petition to the B.C. Supreme Court about Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality.

The Nelson-based society, which has been an opponent of Jumbo Glacier Resort for more than a decade, filed an application for a judicial review of the resort municipality, arguing that creating a municipality with an appointed mayor and councillors violates the constitution and some provincial statues.

The council of both the Village of Radium Hot Springs and the District of Invermere sent letters to the union about the petition in the months after the application was filed— Invermere council asking the union to intervene and Radium council asking the union not to.

Union president Mary Sjostrom wrote both municipalities back on Thursday, May 9th, saying the union would stay out of the matter.

“We normally don’t get involved (in legal matters) at this stage, but mainly the union executive chose not to get involved because it is not a local government filing the petition and we represent local governments,” said Ms. Sjostrom, adding that when the union does intervene in legal matters involving its member municipalities, it typically does so during the appeals stage.

“It could have been different if it was one of our members filing the application” she said. “But it was a society.”
Invermere council formally received and filed its letter from the union during its May 14th council meeting while Radium council formally received and filed its letter during its May 22nd council meeting.

In both letters, Ms. Sjostrom wrote that the union spent substantial time reviewing background information on the matter, considering options and deciding what to do. Ms. Sjostrom also said the union executive came to the conclusion that consultation by the Province with the union regarding Bill 41 was inadequate.

“We brought it to to (the Province’s) attention and when they get back to work we hope we’ll have a meeting with the minister,” said Ms. Sjostrom. “We need to make sure we are consulted.”

The mayors of Invermere and Radium had differing reactions to the union’s response.

“We are pleased with the decision. Local governments, especially in the East Kootenay, are not challenging this. It is an ecosociety from the West Kootenay that is, so UBCM has no jurisdiction in the matter,” said Radium mayor Dee Conklin, adding that Radium council wrote its letter to let the union know that not all municipalities and people in the region are anti-Jumbo.

“We hope this can all be put behind us and we can move forward in a positive and ecological manner,” said Mrs. Conklin.
Invermere mayor Gerry Taft said he was disappointed with the union’s response and has sent another letter back to the union expressing concern with its decision.

One reason local government bodies, including the District of Invermere, opted not to become legally involved in the application was because some people in those local governments feel it is the union’s role to get involved, not that of local governments, he said.

“So it’s a bit of a circular argument for the union to say it won’t get involved because no local governments are and, in my opinion, a bit of passing the buck,” said Mr. Taft, adding the petition is not about the potential benefits or potential drawbacks of Jumbo Glacier Resort.

“The point Invermere is trying to make is about governance — what a town is, whether a municipality can or should exist with appointed representatives and without people — not whether or not you support Jumbo. That seemed to be a point the UBCM missed, that this is a governance issue and not about Jumbo,” said Mr. Taft.

The West Kootenay Ecosociety’s executive director David Reid also expressed unhappiness with the union’s decision.
“Obviously we’re disappointed that the UBCM has decided not to become involved in this issue, which has ramifications for municipalities across B.C.,” said Mr. Reid. “It’s strange because the majority of UBCM members voted in support of a resolution last fall that took the province to task for moving forward with the (Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort) municipality without consulting the UBCM.”

Mr. Reid said previous B.C. municipalities that began with appointed mayors and councils (Elkford and Tumbler Ridge) do not necessarily mean such appointments can and should be done again.

“It’s a little confusing — yes, it’s happened before, but that doesn’t mean it’s a legal precedent. It just means they got away with it because there wasn’t any opposition,” he said. “We are confident the court is going to rule in our favour. A municipality is obviously a place where people live.”

The union received letters from 12 B.C. municipalities about the West Kootenay Ecosociety’s petition — a few (including Invermere’s) asking the union to intervene, one (Radium’s) asking the union not to intervene, but most simply seeking clarification on the issue, according to Ms. Sjostrom. Of the 12 municipalities, five — Invermere, Radium, Nelson, New Denver and Montrose — are in the Kootenay region.

Steve Hubrecht
Email: steve@columbiavalleypioneer.com
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Reporter Steve Hubrecht arrived in the Columbia Valley after working for newspapers in Fernie, B.C., and Beijing, China. He spends as much time outside as possible – if he's not at the Pioneer and Echo office, he's probably out telemarking or hiking. He grew up in southern Ontario and graduated with an MA in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario in 2006.

6 Responses to UBCM opts not to get involved in Jumbo petition

  1. David R Pacey says:

    Whether a person agrees or disagrees with West Kootenay Eco Society’s David Reid in regards to Jumbo’s municipal legal status, I believe it is good that he and others are putting this issue to the courts.
    Yes, it is an irritant for some, a clarification for others, a large expense for the government, but it is the right of everyone to question a law. Whether WKES is successful is doubtful given that there is much precedent in BC but it really should be clarified so that everyone in the province and especially both the West and East Kootenys can finally, we hope, move on to making this location the success it is meant to be for everyone.
    Do I personally think Reid and company will be successful – no I don’t. They obviously feel they will.
    My problem with this action is that it seems a very thinly reasoned methodology for the continued delay tactic on the part of the NIMBY’S that is going to cost you and I, through our taxes, money money money. That is the standard tactic of the supposed environmentalists – delay, delay and delay some more. Even, in the unlikely event that Reid and Co. are successful, the proponent will and should continue with their plans and their work towards what so many view as a brilliant concept in an excellent location for the benefit of skiers, hikers, tourists and yes wildlife.
    But, and still, a successful conclusion on the part of the government to show the NIMBY’s and society that we elect governments to set the rules and make the decisions, is truly within their ( governments) purview.

    • tdub says:

      As a frequent visitor to the area, I am still mystified how this “brilliant concept” (in an age of declining ski numbers and shrinking glaciers) will be “an excellent location for the hikers and wildlife.” Seriously? If there is such a feigned concern for taxpayers who live in the area, I can’t wait to see their glee when the cost of maintaining the road are folder into their taxes. With all due respect to the regulatory process, while some may be frustrated with delay tactics from opponents, far more suspect is the manner in which the approval was ram-rodded through by monied insiders on the proponent side.

  2. mark says:

    We in the East Kootenays have ski hiils near most towns. Do we want the tourists going into the back country where there is lots of grizzly bears and crevasses in the mountain, and a lake on the other side of the mountain called Lake of the Hanging Glacier with only trail access. The area will look like Vancouver soon if we don’t stop the proposed ski hill.

    • david R Pacey says:

      Back at cha Mark
      Greg the Giz and his two buddies will be sound asleep when the skiers go shushing down the glaciers and over the creeks and gulleys throughout during the winter season. The crevasses will be covered with skades of snow just like they have been doing over in Europe for any number of decades and during the summer, the Vancouver hikers and bikers will be shredding the rock to their hearts content.
      Bring ’em on !!!!!

  3. shredder says:

    1000 low paying jobs for young Aussies, kiwis and europeans does not justify destroying a key watershed for millions of people. Go to Banff in the spring the place is dead. No one want skiing in summer they want to golf. How about we leave it be and the true pioneers and explorers of this world will still have a place to go. Stupidest plan ever.

    • David R Pacey says:

      Good questions Shredder that were answered about 15 years ago in this 22 year discussion.
      Yup, U are right, Banff in the spring is dead and so is Invermere and Radium Hot Springs. Watch out though for summer and fall and winter. All those places ROCK !!! with hikers and bikers, climbers and cyclists and folks having a living attended to, and that includes the Aussies and folks from Isreal and USA and and and from all the corners of the world that come to BC to enter the back country like every one else.
      Not a good idea to keep them out at all but welcome each and every person with open arms, even those that don’t want to hike the high hills but want to shoot the Greg the Griz or hike the hills or or or. We are all inclusive in this province, not exclusive.
      You and your friends and family can enjoy things along with me and mine.
      You are all welcome to join us in the mtns and the glaciers, on the ridges and in the forests. Come to the Kootenys and enjoy our life style

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