Dear Minister Thompson:
I returned this week from the Jumbo Valley, having spent two weeks at the Jumbo Citizen’s Monitoring Camp. As you may know, Glacier Resorts Ltd. is in a big hurry to substantially commence their mega-resort project in the Jumbo Valley. Their Environmental Assessment Certificate is due to expire on October 12th if they don’t get this project started (Editor’s note: This letter to the editor was submitted prior to October 12th).
In their hurry to make some feeble marks of progress at this final hour, at least three excavators and crews of workers have been working daily in the wilderness of the Jumbo Valley. The noise of machines building bridges, cutting trees, punching in roads, drilling wells, excavating clearings, digging pits and removing rock and soil for their construction emanates throughout the valley.
In my view, Glacier Resorts is currently and for the past few years in violation of Condition #88, which requires that they keep ATVs and other recreational vehicles out of the Controlled Recreation Area (CRA). Last fall, they installed a rinky-dink gate in the Farnham drainage that has been completely ineffective in keeping motorized traffic out. It probably wouldn’t help if they locked this gate since it’s so flimsily constructed and installed to begin with. I think Glacier Resorts shouldn’t have agreed to conditions like this if they are unwilling to do the necessary work to deal with the inevitable issues of vandalism by people trying to access areas they have historically used. They have failed to keep motorized traffic out of the Jumbo side as well, again through lack of adequate barriers or monitoring (note: Jumbo Wilders support all traditional uses of the valley.)
This is just one of my numerous concerns about the legality of this development. The monitors at the Jumbo Camp have been photographing, documenting and reporting other concerns about Glacier Resorts compliance with their Environmental Assessment Conditions to the relevant government bodies.
One of these is access to the Jumbo Valley. We await a response from you, Mr. Thompson.
Why is the government not enforcing its own laws?
There are two ongoing Judicial Reviews in process — by the Ktunaxa First Nation and the West Kootenay EcoSociety — about this development. Wouldn’t it make sense to deal with these concerns prior to damaging the Jumbo Valley? One of these Judicial Reviews concerns the establishment of a municipality with no residents. The Union of BC Municipalities unanimously disapproved of this in principal hence my sentiments about this government-sponsored development are shared by elected representatives all across the province, at many different levels.
But no, the whole process of permitting the Jumbo Resort and establishing the pseudo-town of Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality has demonstrated that this government has, in my opinion, little respect for the will of the majority residents of the Kootenays (70 per cent in the last independent poll) and the democratic process. By not enforcing their own laws, the government demonstrates to me a lack of respect for the judiciary and law.
If the B.C. government is little more than an autocratic puppet for corporations, how can the public continue to support this charade? Will we continue to support this charade?
The great love that people of the Kootenays, indigenous and settlers, feel for their homeplace should not be underestimated. The Purcell Range is the jewel of our ecosystems here, the cradle of genetic diversity for many wild species and a place where our spirits fuse with the wilderness, each in our own way. We hike in Jumbo, we hunt in Jumbo, we run our businesses in Jumbo, we pray in Jumbo, we explore in Jumbo, we trap in Jumbo and we honour Jumbo just the way it is — wild.