Jumbo council paves way for resort construction
The appointed municipal council that represents a ski hill proposal May 21 gave the go-ahead for the construction of that proposal.
Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality (Jumbo) councilors Nancy Huganin and Steve Ostrander and Mayor Greg Deck (via teleconference) unanimously passed the third and final readings of Bylaw No. 0006, which divides the Farnham Glacier area within municipal terrain into zones for regulations governing the use of land, buildings and structures.
The council acting on behalf of Glacier Resorts Ltd. (GRL), which intends to build a 6,400 person ski resort in the Jumbo Creek Valley, 55 km west of Invermere, then approved Building and Plumbing Bylaw No. 0007 (“A bylaw to regulate the construction, alteration, repairs or demolition of buildings and structures”).
A public hearing was held for Bylaw No. 6 on May 13, also at the Village of Radium Hot Springs’ council chambers where all Jumbo municipal meetings are held at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.
Seven letters were submitted detailing support and opposition, including a detailed trio of items, including photographs, from mountaineer and long-time valley resident Arnor Larson. The first, entitled Farnham Fantasy, notes in its conclusion, “Everyone should be made aware that the ‘track record’ of both GRL and the province is so poor that a disaster is clearly in the offing should actual work on the ground commence.”
The second item was a copy of a 2009 letter to then Minister of Tourism, Cultural and Arts Kevin Krueger outlining information about and concerns of fuel spills and “contamination of a Sensitive Alpine Area in the Heart of the Purcells.”
And the third item was also a copy of a 2009 letter to Krueger noting fuel spills and “unsecured vehicle access in the upper Farnham Creek drainage.”
Both letters are referred to in Larson’s letter to the Jumbo council.
Letters received by Jumbo council reflected positions stated repeatedly over the past two decades in the Columbia Valley.
Invermere resident Monroe Hunsicker, Coun. Huganin’s spouse, wrote he’s long supported the Jumbo proposal because of the opportunities it would provide for local ski racing and training of youth. He also noted that the Farnham Glacier aspect of the Jumbo Resort plans would open the Purcell Mountain beauty to all people, and not just those who can manage the hike/climb to the top of peaks.
Paul de Guise praised council for its good work, noting his “dream of skiing Jumbo is getting closer,” he stated, adding, “It will enhance the Rockies mountains experience available for all to experience (sic).”
Pat Bavin offered a suggestion for a time clause to be included in the bylaw.
“’If the development conditions of Bylaw No. 0006, 2013 are not experienced by a specified time in the future (to be agreed upon and posted within the bylaw) that the said zoning revert back to the Crown.’ I state this request from concern of real estate speculation, rather than sustainable ‘boutique’ resort development,” he stated.
Kootenay Snowsports Society co-chair Cheryl Willard wrote urging council to pass the Farnham zoning bylaw as quickly as possible.
“Young Canadian athletes were able to train and stay overnight on Farnham Glacier only a few short years ago but had the opportunity taken away due to a lack of funding within the system. We are most anxious to see Farnham reestablished as an out of season training centre,” she wrote.
Invermere resident Dave McGrath said he agreed with Willard, that having such a training facility/locale available for local youth would be a benefit to the area.
Even the master architect who hatched the dream egg called Jumbo, Pheidias Project Management Corporation president Oberto Oberti chimed in with a letter detailing the arduous and unfair process he’s slogged through the past 20 years trying to gain approvals for a project he was hired to create, though the original hiring backers long-ago disappeared.
“The fact that the interim agreement was signed in 1993 clearly indicates that the project has been victimized by a more onerous process than for any other similar project and by greater delays than for any other similar project, despite being significantly better than similar projects, not only in B.C., but also in North America,” Oberti wrote in a May 6 letter to Jumbo council.
“Justice indicates that it is time that the zoning is believed to be required for this project be implemented without further delays or equivocations and that the project be permitted to start,” he demanded, adding he thanked council and the Village of Radium Hot Springs for its support over the years.
Seven people also spoke during the public hearing, including Larson and Willard.
GRL vice-president Grant Costello, who also identified himself as a director for Kootenay Snowsports Society, said “the primary reason for this component of the Master Plan to move forward is to develop a permanent world-class training centre for local and Canadian athletes so that they can be competitive on the world stage,” reads Jumbo council hearing minutes.
Village of Radium Hot Springs Coun. Ron Verboom echoed Oberto in noting the various processes the Jumbo proposal has gone through, including the Commission on Resources and Environment (CORE) and the Environmental Assessment Office review.
Stopping the project would send “a terrible message to prospective developers,” he warned, adding the project would increase the tax bases in the region and support the funding of public services such as health care, the hearing notes detail. Verboom also believes the resort would make the Jumbo area more accessible for the local population in terms of recreational use.
Winter Olympic gold medalist (1964 four man bobsleigh) and Windermere resident Doug Anakin stated he felt the hearing process “before an appointed body to be illegitimate and undemocratic” and concluded council should not “go against the wishes of the local people and build a resort up there.”
The Jumbo council also appointed Barb Cote as the Shuswap First Nations representative on the First Nations Advisory Body.