The Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Bill Bennett, announced that the cabinet has approved the incorporation of Jumbo as a mountain resort municipality.
A municipal council has been appointed for a term ending Nov. 30, 2014, and an interim corporate officer has also been named and will serve until the first council meeting of the new municipality.
Jumbo’s first mayor and councillors are Greg Deck (mayor), Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander while Phil Taylor has been named the the interim corporate officer, ensuring that the municipality is operational by its incorporation date of Feb. 19, 2013.
Deck is a former mayor of Radium Hot Springs and has also served as the chair of the Regional District of East Kootenay. Hugunin is a member, director, and president of Windermere Valley Ski Club and serves as Kootenay regional chairperson for the BC Ski Association while Ostrander is a longtime resident of Invermere who, since retiring in 2008, has been involved with many different volunteer organizations.
Taylor is a qualified accountant with more than 32 years experience in the local government sector, including nearly 20 years at the senior strategic management and corporate level. He has worked primarily for smaller communities, most recently for the town of Golden.
The Jumbo Glacier Resort’s Master Development Agreement was approved in March 2012, following a 20-year review process and extensive consultation.
Columbia River-Revelstoke Norm Macdonald has long been an outspoken critic of the project.
“I’ve not spoken to anyone outside the BC Liberal party who thinks that this legislation makes sense,” said Macdonald. “To create a town where there are no residents, to appoint a council that may never face election, and do this with no real possibility that a resort will be built is ridiculous. But a small group of Jumbo supporters are getting their way on this one: transferring control of public lands into private hands.”
Macdonald went on and added, “One has to ask why the BC Liberals would press forward with this designation at this time. This resort will never be built, and after more than a decade, the developer has not been able to find an investor.”
The year-round ski resort is proposed to be located at the foot of Jumbo Mountain and Jumbo Glacier, 55 kilometres west of Invermere. The $450-million resort is planned in three phases and will include 5,500 bed-units in a 104-hectare resort base area. It is projected to provide approximately 750 to 800 permanent full-time jobs.
The Ktunaxa Nation, who have openly been against the project, released a statement about the decision that said they were, “deeply disappointed in the BC.. government’s decision to provide the designation of resort municipality to Jumbo Glacier Resort.”
The feeling of disappointment was echoed by Robyn Duncan, who is the program manager with Wildsight.
“This is a public land grab. For 20 years, the people have said no to the Jumbo Resort, grizzly bear scientists have said no to the Jumbo Resort and the Ktunaxa Nation has said no to the Jumbo Resort. In September, the Union of BC Municipalities said no. This decision changes the face in democracy in B.C.,” she said.
The BC Chamber of Commerce released a statement in support of the B.C. government for its decision to approve the incorporation of Jumbo Glacier as a mountain resort municipality.
“This resort will be a game changer for B.C. tourism,” said John Winter, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “Now that the environmental assessment has been completed, and municipality incorporated, the project proponents finally have the green light to go ahead and put the funding in place.”
Winter went on and said, “It is good to see B.C. sending a clear signal that economically critical projects can ultimately be dealt with through an expeditious and balanced process, and I very much hope that this becomes the start of a trend.”