By Steve Hubrecht

Pioneer Staff

The B.C. Liberal candidate for Columbia River-Revelstoke is clarifying his stance on a major Upper Columbia Valley issue.

In its Columbia River-Revelstoke riding profile (part of a weekly series leading up to next springs provincial election), the CBC summarized Liberal candidate Doug Clovechoks campaign compared with his 2013 provincial election campaign as a new stance against a new candidate in a new election. The new stance was in reference to the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort project, which the CBC said Mr. Clovechok is no longer for.

Mr. Clovechok, who supported the Jumbo project during his 2013 campaign, clarified his stance to The Pioneer.

The CBC was not completely accurate, he said. Ive always been supportive of the (Jumbo) from a jobs perspective and from a fairness to the proponent perspective. That hasnt changed. What has changed is that its been 25 years since the project was first proposed. Ive met with many people during the past four years people for the project and people against it. What Ive come to understand is that people who support it still support it, but its time to move on.

Mr. Clovechok said he hasnt talked to the proponent for some time, and that the proponent may not be happy with Mr. Clovechok saying so, but I dont think (Jumbo) is ever going to happen. At the end of the day, I wont actively support or oppose this project. Its dead. Its a shame it didnt happen, but, as I said, its time to put this behind us and move ahead. Its been really divisive for the valley. Its gone on too long. Its time now for some healing and to find ways for neighbours to be friendly again. My focus is going to be on finding real opportunities for jobs. I wont be spending any time on the Jumbo issue, either as a candidate or as an MLA.

He referenced the Ktunaxa First Nations legal case against the provinces decision to create Jumbo Glacier Resort, which was scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada starting on Thursday, December 1st (the day after The Pioneers press deadline), saying if the court decision is against the proponent, my assumption is that the construction that was made up there will have to be taken down and returned to the state it was in. I think that is important.

Mr. Clovechok added that people may say hes waffling because its election time, but thats not the case.

Ive not done any flip flop and I havent changed my mind. Its just that its done, he said, adding that this is in contrast to NDP Columbia River-Revelstoke candidate Gerry Taft, who openly supported Jumbo during his early years as an Invermere councillor, but then later opposed it as mayor.

Mr. Taft conceded to The Pioneer that he did support Jumbo once upon a time, but added his current opposition has been constant for more than a decade.

When I was in high school, and for a brief time after, I did support the concept of Jumbo. Once I got elected (as a councillor at age 20) and started learning more about how developers operate and about the community concern about the project, I did change my opinion, said Mr. Taft. It was not long after getting elected that I changed my stance. My position on the project and its governance has been quite clear and quite consistent for a long time ever since.

Mr. Taft emphasized his particular concern for the method the provincial government used to push the project forward (by creating a mountain resort municipality), suggesting that if instead it had gone through the regular Regional District of East Kootenay zoning process for new developments, this would have provided an outlet for meaningful local public input.

It would have been a much cleaner and more fair process, although they would have been obliged to consider local opinions and to speculate the project probably would have been rejected, he said, adding hes confused by Mr. Clovechoks new position on the issue.

If Mr. Clovechok feels the Jumbo project is dead, why is he not advocating or pushing to have the (Jumbo) municipality dissolved? asked Mr. Taft. Not that long ago, he and his supporters were pretty adamant that Jumbo was the best thing for the valley. I think its fair to say that (Glacier Resorts Ltd. vice president) Grant Costello was quite involved in the last election and in managing Mr. Clovechoks (2013) campaign. So to now say that Jumbos not important, it does seems like hes taking a different tack.

As of press deadline, just how long the Ktunaxas Supreme Court case hearing would last, or when a verdict would be reached, was unclear.