Jumbo’s Roadblock: Proposed B.C. Resort’s Environmental Certificate Expires

Late last week, British Columbia’s Environmental Minister Mary Polak made an announcement that will put on hold the development of Jumbo Glacier Resort. The multi-billion-dollar project, located 53 km west of Invereme, B.C. in the East Kootenay Mountains, has been a decades-long source of conflict among developers, First Nations tribes and backcountry skiers.

Chad Sayers dropping down the Farnham Glacier—the formerly proposed area for a day lodge—on an April powder day. [Photo] Steve Ogle

Chad Sayers dropping down the Farnham Glacier—the formerly proposed area for a day lodge—on an April powder day. [Photo] Steve Ogle

The proposed resort, first envisioned in the early ’90s, includes a 1,500-acre ski area with year-round skiing over four currently undeveloped glaciers—Farnham, Commander, Jumbo and Glacier Dome. According to JumboGlacierResort.com, “At build-out, the resort will see up to 2,000 to 3,000 visitors per day in the high season.”

At the heart of the proposed resort’s latest hurdle is their Environmental Assessment Certificate, which was issued in October 2004 and extended in 2009. “Every environmental assessment certificate has a deadline by which the project must be substantially started in the reasonable opinion of the minister,” Polak said in a conference call. “While it is clear that some construction has started, I was not convinced that the physical activity undertaken as of October 12, 2014 meets the threshold of a substantially started project.” As a result, the proposed resort’s Environmental Assessment Certificate has expired.

Alex Yoder riding the shoulder of Mt. Lady MacBeth on the Nelson side of Jumbo Pass in front of the Horseshoe Glacier. [Photo] Steve Ogle

Alex Yoder riding the shoulder of Mt. Lady MacBeth on the Nelson side of Jumbo Pass in front of the Horseshoe Glacier. [Photo] Steve Ogle

According to Polak, factors influencing her decision included submissions from the developer Glacier Resorts Ltd., the Ktunaxa Nation Council, the Shuswap Indian Band, guidance from the courts, a personal site visit and an environmental assessment that determined noncompliance in the location of a day lodge and service building with avalanche hazards.

“I’m very, very pleased and relieved,” Norm Macdonald, member of the legislative assembly for Columbia River-Revelstoke told Cranbrook, B.C.’s Daily Townsman. “Minister Polak insisted all along that she would make this decision in a fair manner and she’s done that.”

Read more about the decision to pull Jumbo’s certificate in the Vancouver Sun.

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