Glacier Resorts Ltd. is preparing to break ground this summer at Jumbo Glacier Resort. According to the mayor of Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality, a recent national newspaper story suggesting time may be running out, with the resort proponents’ environment certificate set to expire in October 2014 unless there is construction at Jumbo, is unnecessarily alarmist.

When asked what would happen if the resort’s proponents do not have construction underway by October and the environmental assessment certificate expires, Jumbo mayor Greg Deck said that was an enormous “if.”

“It’s not going to happen. The proponent is entirely focused on breaking ground this year,” said Mr. Deck.

Glacier Resorts Ltd. acquired its environmental assessment certificate, which contains, 195 conditions in October 2004, with the caveat that it would expire in 10 years time if there is no evidence the project has “substantially started.” Just how much work needs to be done is not clear.

“The term ‘substantially started’ is not defined in the Environmental Assessment Act. Each situation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, in light of all relevant facts related to the project,” said Ministry of Environment spokesperson David Karn, adding the Environmental Assessment Office considers factors such as what specific physical works have been completed or are underway; what investment of time, effort, money and other resources the proponent has made to develop one or more main physical elements of the project; and whether or not the activities undertaken so far are a direct result of the project being certified.

The environmental assessment process took more than nine years from when it began in July 1995  before the certificate was granted to Glacier Resorts Ltd., and Mr. Karn said there is no specific fast-track mechanism for the resort’s proponents to regain their environmental assessment certificate should it be revoked.

Although the ministry would not speculate on what might happen if torrential rains wipe out access roads or protest groups manage to stall construction this summer, Mr. Karn did say the certificate’s deadline will not be extended.

“The certificate was extended in 2009. Under the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act, an environmental assessment certificate can only be extended once,” said Mr. Karn.

Glacier Resort Ltd. vice-president Grant Costello declined to comment.

The resort was first proposed more than 20 years ago and has generated debate ever since.