By Nicole Trigg
Columbia Valley RCMP are anticipating anti-Jumbo Glacier Resort protests will once again require their police presence in the Jumbo Valley when construction on the new highway gets underway.
Ive explained to the people who are developing that project that I expect the same type of protests to happen (as last summer), but it might be a little bit more intense because of the deadlines that each side knows, said Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac. However, our tactic is not going to change. We will continue to respond to any criminal complaints and deal with them like we did last year and if theres an offence that happens, then well investigate it and send it off to Crown council.
Locally, both Wildsight and Ktunaxa Nation have expressed an unwillingness to allow the project to proceed. Wildsight operations director Robyn Duncan issued a statement on July 10th stating local opposition remains strong and the battle to protect the Jumbo Valley is far from over, while Ktunaxa National Council Chair Kathryn Teneese commented several days later in an email that the Ktunaxa Nation remains completely opposed to any development taking place in the Jumbo Valley.
My plan is to, like I did last year, at least once a week go up and meet with the people, the protesters, said Staff Sgt. Shehovac. I think I had a good relationship with the protesters last year and if its the same type of people up there, same protesters, I dont expect much different, but because of it heating up and theres a date thats set, I dont know what the makeup of the protesters will be this year.
Last summer, police regularly attended a checkpoint on Farnham Creek Road, where a Citizens for Jumbo Wild group had set up a watch dog camp with a van spray painted with the slogan Jumbo Wild parked across the road. An injunction sought by Glacier Resorts Ltd. after camp members turned back vice-president Grant Costello and a work crew with machinery in August was adjourned indefinitely. The camp shut down without further incident last October with plans to return should construction resume.
With Jumbo Glacier Resorts current Environmental Certificate set to expire this October unless its parent company, Glacier Resorts Ltd., demonstrates that a substantial start to the project has been reached, construction on the highway is expected to start soon.
We are reviewing the design, and there have been some design upgrades to the proposed route of the access road, said Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Rocky Mountain District Operations Manager Gordon Chudleigh.
Currently, access into Jumbo Valley is up the Jumbo Creek Forest Service Road, which starts at the end of Toby Creek Road, 19 kilometres past Panorama Mountain Village. The forest service road, which is on the left side of the valley, is currently closed due to washouts and avalanche debris.
Its a very unreliable alignment, so the proposal is that they will build a new road on the right side of the valley out of the avalanche paths and it will be a better alignment and better, safer more reliable road, and thats the alignment that were reviewing right now, said Mr. Chudleigh, adding that where the new resort road will branch off Toby Creek Road is still undecided, with a few options on the table. Its coming along nicely.
Construction will start in the planned resort area and work its way back, he said.
Just like any development in the province that can create traffic, they build the road, they fund it, and the Ministry of Transportation approves the design, he said, and once the road is built to our acceptable standard then the Ministry of Transportation will take it into our inventory, just like every other development.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has submitted an application to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans for approval to do in-stream work to install culverts at the 1.7 and five kilometres marks on Jumbo FSR that were washed out during the spring, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Public Affairs Officer Greig Bethel told The Pioneer in an email. Additional work on the road will include some remedial bridge work, rip-rap installation, and the removal of debris from five to six avalanches that came down between the 6.3 and 13 kilometres marks.
Once cleared, the road will be open to recreational traffic up to the Jumbo Pass trailhead, as well as to Jumbo Glacier Resort, which has obtained a permit to use the existing forestry road for the industrial purpose of starting construction at the planned resort site.
In order to secure the permit, Jumbo Glacier Resort had to indicate they have an industrial purpose for the road and will take on road maintenance responsibilities to support the industrial use, said Mr. Bethel.
The ministry maintains the Jumbo FSR up to the Jumbo Pass trailhead to a level that permits access for recreational traffic. Any additional maintenance requirements for the purpose of industrial use is the responsibility of the road use permit holder, he said.
According to Mr. Bethel, the Environmental Assessment Office Compliance and Enforcement is conducting an administrative and site inspection on Jumbo Glacier Resort to determine whether key pre-construction requirements have been met by Glacier Resorts Inc.
The Mountain Resorts branch under the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is managing the Jumbo Glacier Resort Master Development Agreement and all of its terms and conditions, and works with the Environmental Assessment Office to manage the Environmental Assessment Certificate commitments, he said.
The Mountain Resorts branch is also taking a lead role in coordinating applications related to the project but outside of the resort area, i.e. the access road and establishment of the Wildlife Management Area and its objectives, said Mr. Bethel.
In addition, Environmental Assessment Office Compliance and Enforcement and partner agencies will conduct field inspections during the construction phase, he added.
The compliance self-report for Jumbo Glacier Resort that the Environmental Assessment Office required at least one month prior to construction is available online at http://goo.gl/cyKHnX.