EcoSociety to challenge Jumbo Municipality in court
The West Kootenay EcoSociety is today (Feb. 18) submitting an application for a Judicial Review of the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality at the B.C. Courthouse in Nelson.
The application argues that the appointment of municipal councilors without any electors violates the constitution and various provincial statutes. The Province of British Columbia created the new municipality in the Jumbo Valley with an Order in Council on November 19, 2012. The area has no human inhabitants. The municipal council’s first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 19, in Radium Hot Springs.
The West Kootenay EcoSociety has been a long-standing member of the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild! and has been an active opponent of the proposed ski resort since 1994. EcoSociety is filing the application with the support and cooperation of the coalition, and with funding from West Coast Environmental Law.
The B.C. Government made significant changes to the Local Government Act through Bill 41 on the last day of the spring session in 2012. The new law removed the previous reqiurement that resort municipalities have residents and that the residents support the creation of the municipality.
The Union of BC Municipalities and the Regional District of Central Kootenay passed motions opposing the changes.
The court filing argues that although the consitution grants sweeping powers to the province to establish municipalities, there is a common law understanding that a municipality is a democratic institution created for a public purpose. Therefore, the creation of a municipality with no residents for the purpose of furthering a private development is inherently unconstitutional. In addition, other parts of the Local Government Act and the Community Charter refer to municipalities as having residents.
The provincial government appointed Jumbo Resort supporter Greg Deck as mayor. Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander were appointed to council and Phil Taylor was hired as the interim corporate officer, tasked with getting the municipality up and running by its incorporation date of Feb. 19, 2013. The province has earmarked $260,000 of taxpayer money to support the creation of the muncipality and its operation.
The Ktunaxa Nation has submitted an application for a judicial review concerning their right to consultation as a holder of Aboriginal title.
The $500 million to $1 billion Jumbo Glacier Resort plan calls for 6,300 beds including hotels and private residences. At build-out, the plan calls for more than 20 ski lifts, with over 2,500 visitors per day in the winter. The proposed land tenure includes approximately 6,500 hectares. The proposed resort would create an average of 943 car trips per day along the Jumbo Glacier road, which bisects the Purcell Mountains and would create a significant barrier for grizzly bears and other wildlife. Dr. Michael Proctor has found that this core anchor sub-population is likely essential to maintaining the long-term self-sustainability of the larger regional grizzly population as well as maintaining the international distribution extending directly south into the U.S.