bc-081103-jumbo-resort

The developers of the Jumbo Glacier Resort want to build a year-round ski operation on the glacial peaks about an hour west of Invermere, B.C. ((Jumbo Glacier Resort))

A proposed year-round ski resort in B.C.'s East Kootenays is one huge step closer to becoming reality.

At the Regional District of East Kootenay's monthly board meeting Friday, local politicians voted 8-7 to hand planning responsibility for the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort over to the province.

The board will ask the province to create a separate municipality for Jumbo Glacier, taking away local responsibility for zoning.

The $45-million development, which would be about 55 kilometres west of Invermere at the foot of Jumbo Mountain, has been in the works for nearly two decades, and proponents call the decision a huge victory.

"[We think] reasonable people and reasonable government should select the best option and we think that is what we've done," said Grant Costello, vice-president of Glacier Resorts Ltd., which is spearheading the plan.

But to opponents of the ski resort, the vote is nothing short of a betrayal.

John Bergenske, with the environmental group Wildsight, said it means passing off a local decision to politicians in Victoria.

"This is a big stab in the back to people from the region who want to actually be engaged in local decision-making," he said.

Opponents argue the development poses a threat to wildlife and they want to see the area preserved.

The plan has been in the work since the early 1990s, when it was cautiously endorsed by the New Democrats.

Developers spent over a decade seeking approval for the project from successive provincial governments before clearing a major hurdle in 2007 when the master plan was approved by the Liberal government.

Since then, they've been waiting for local zoning approval before the project goes ahead, but officials said the project was too large for the local government to handle.

Despite clearing this hurdle, the development is still a long way from becoming a reality. The province still has to agree to create a resort municipality at Jumbo.

The developers still need the support of the Ktunaxa First Nation which has publically opposed the project. But the company has signed a development agreement with the Shuswap Band from the Invermere area, which supports the project.

The proposed resort would have 23 ski-lifts, beds for more than 5,000 tourists and access to four glaciers.

Corrections

  • The developers of the Jumbo resort still need the support of the Ktunaxa First Nation which has publically opposed the project. But the company has signed a development agreement with the Shuswap Band from the Invermere area, which supports the project.
    Aug 17, 2009 8:30 AM PT