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Posted: February 21, 2013

Jumbo council launches

The three-person council that will formalize and formulate Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality got down to brass tacks Feb. 19.

With the bang of a gavel, a new municipality was born.

Shuswap Band Chief Paul Sam addresses the council chamber.

Village of Radium Hot Springs Mayor Dee Conklin, representing the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, called the historic meeting to order and introduced Shuswap Band Chief Paul Sam who provided opening remarks.

Sam, 77, said the proposed ski resort, which would, at full build-out, feature 6,300 beds and three-season skiing on five glaciers, will be a great benefit to the region.

“We all know what Jumbo is going to do for us,” he said, noting, “It’s been a long rocky road.”

He recalled traditional Shuswap use of the Jumbo Valley. “As far as I can remember we used that country. That was always our traditional ground.”

Sam said opponents of the project are misguided.

“What has wild ever done for us? We need jobs; we need to get our people off social assistance,” he said.

The argument that Jumbo would be bad for the grizzly bear is also off base, Sam said.

“In my time I never seen any grizzly up there. When they tell you, when one of them tell you they talk to the grizzly and this is what the grizzly told them, it is not true,” he said, refuting comments often made by Ktunaxa First Nations people.

Sam praised the project proponents and supporters.

“I am glad that you people chose the right way to go. You people have done the right thing from the start,” he said.

Following the opening remarks, Jumbo Mayor Greg Deck and councilors Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander took the oath of office, administered by Radium chief administrative officer Mark Read.

They had to raise their voices to be heard over top of howls of derision and “Jumbo wild!” and banging against the walls of the council chambers from a throng of protesters outside.

Once the oaths were completed, Conklin performed the presentation of the letters patent and the acknowledgement of the provincial government’s contribution to the establishment of the Resort Municipality. In doing so she electronically transferred $200,000 into the new municipalities bank account.

That done, Mayor Deck returned a familiar seat – the mayor’s chair in the village council chambers – to conduct the first council meeting for Jumbo.

Deck was one of the founders of the Village of Radium Hot Springs and served as mayor for six terms.

He opened his inaugural address by noting it was “fitting” that the meeting was in the Radium chambers.

He told the 25 people assembled in the council chamber gallery, including District of Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft and councilor Paul Denchuk, Columbia River-Revelstoke Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok, current and past Radium council members, project supporters and opponents, he was “particularly sorry” that Brent Frederickson and Al Mullin didn’t “ live to share this moment. They would have enjoyed this stage of the process very much.

“As we are aware, not everyone in the region is as pleased with where we find ourselves today. I don’t accept that there wasn’t anything democratic about the process that led to this inaugural meeting but being on the losing side of a decision that was democratic doesn’t make the loss any less painful. It is not our job to ease that frustration,” he said, noting their “primary task” is to make the resort municipality a success.

Jumbo Mayor Greg Deck addresses the council chambers as Village of Radium Hot Springs Mayor Dee Conklin looks on.

“That success will be defined by our ability to encourage the creation of facilities of the highest possible quality and the creation of operational procedures to manage those facilities to the highest possible standards, for now and for the long term,” Deck said.

“There are several factors that will define that quality and those standards and we have to balance the tension between them; an enjoyable experience for visitors and residents, respect for the environmental and cultural values of the site and the financial efficiency of the overall operations.

“The Village of Radium Hot Springs shared this same set of challenges in its operation. And we can learn much from its success and I am pleased that we will be able to draw on the village staff directly for assistance as we begin. I’ve been through the formative years of a municipality before so I have some idea what to expect,” he said, turning to his new council members.

“I want to express my gratitude at this point for my colleagues on this new council, who agreed to participate largely on faith. I am confident from my previous opportunities to work with both of you that you will do an admirable job. I just want to thank you in advance for doing it with me under what I am sure will be much more intense scrutiny than when the Village of Radium Hot Springs was incorporated,” Deck said, as protesters voices still cut into the council chambers.

“We aren’t likely to get the same benefit of the doubt from mistakes made while learning on the job but we will do our best to meet this higher standard. Nonetheless, the potential for an achievement we can be very proud of stands before us,” he said.

Deck then chaired the formal council meeting, which included a number of establishment protocols, beginning with a resolution to appoint him as JGRM’s appointee as director on the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and Ostrander to be his alternate.

In concert with a unanimous motion made by the RDEK board at the January meeting, the new Jumbo council unanimously adopted Policy No. 0001, which states the JGRM board appointee “only attend meetings at the request” of the RDEK board chair “ and no director’s honorarium or travel expenses should be paid by the board until such time as there is an elected mayor and council for Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality or the taxable assessment base reaches $30 million.”

Phil Taylor

Following that, council appointed Phil Taylor as acting corporate officer and acting financial officer.

Taylor provided a brief administrative report and introduced a memorandum of understanding to be signed by the JGRM and the Village of Radium Hot Springs.

Additionally, the new council appointed the Kootenay Credit Union in Radium as JGRM’s banker, agreed to have Municipal Insurance Association of British Columbia as municipal insurers and appointed Murdy McAllister of Vancouver as municipal solicitors.

The first of what are to be many bylaws were also introduced and passed, including Bylaw No. 0001, which establishes meeting procedures, including regular meetings of council, which will be the third Tuesday of each month, at 1 p.m. at the Radium council chambers.

Four more bylaws (0002 to 0004) were also placed on the books, covering financial plan, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy, officers and employees indemnification and remuneration and expenses.

Taylor explained how he came up with council remuneration and expenses, noting he focused on smaller municipalities’ rate structures, with only one having a mayor earning less than $10,000 a year.

JGRM’s first mayor will earn $7,500 a year and each councilor will be paid $5,000.

“Basically, you guys are at the bottom of the barrel for the amount paid,” Taylor said, adding their work load will be enormous.

“That said, our constituent load is going to be pretty light,” Deck quipped.

The inaugural meeting start was delayed for a few seconds while Jumbo Glacier Resort vice-president Grant Costello was handed a legal challenge document by two West Kootenay EcoSociety members.

“I’ll see you in court,” he said to the duo.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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