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Posted: July 17, 2015

Taxpayers paid for GRL-necessary bridge

By Chris Conway

A financial oversight process shows that the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality (JGMRM) expended $142,500 of B.C. taxpayer funds on construction of a bridge last year in the Jumbo Valley.

Glacier Resorts Ltd. (GRL) subsequently listed the publicly-owned bridge as part of the work it claimed to have completed in its failed effort to meet the “substantial start” criteria for the Jumbo resort project.

The bridge was constructed to provide road access to the land area within the municipal jurisdiction and is therefore ostensibly separate from the GRL project.

Jumbo BridgeJGMRM Mayor Greg Deck confirmed that the bridge is a municipal asset. “It is a permanent bridge which will remain in place as an alternative access even if a new road to the resort is built on the other side of the creek,” he stated.

Municipal and government documents link a transfer of public money from the provincial government to JGMRM, which then funded a joint construction project involving the municipality and GRL. Subsequently the government included the public funds expenditures and bridge construction as part of the GRL project effort.

The expenditures were disclosed in the municipality’s 2014 Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) report, which was approved by JGMRM council at its last meeting on June 16. The SOFI report is a financial oversight document required by law, which identifies payments for goods and services in excess of $25,000.

The report shows a payment of $82,985 to Cranbrook-based M. Johnston Construction Ltd. and $64,904 to Rapid-Span Group based in Armstrong. The total expenditure reported is $147,889.

Village of Radium Hot Springs’ chief administrative officer (CAO), Mark Read is the acting CAO for JGMRM.  Read confirmed that the actual cost to the municipality was $142,557.78 and the balance is attributable to GST rebates on the project.

Read also confirmed that the bridge is a municipal asset located at 15.8 km on the Jumbo Forest Service Road. According to Read, GRL contributed $56,590.80 to the bridge project in project management, construction oversight and environmental monitoring services, permit applications and installation of a temporary bridge.

On November 7, 2014, GRL submitted a report to the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) that represented the 15.8 km bridge as a component of the resort’s opening phase and part of GRL’s “substantial start” effort.

On June 18, Minister of Environment Mary Polak determined that the substantial start had in fact not occurred.  However, in that determination she attributed the bridge project to GRL. A submission by the Ktunaxa Nation Council provided clarification that the bridge is in fact a municipal asset funded by B.C. taxpayers. Despite that clarification, the minister still chose to include the bridge as part of GRL’s project. The substantial start criteria was determined not to have been met regardless of the inclusion of the municipality’s bridge project.

According to Read, JGMRM did not expend any other funds on capital or related projects in conjunction with Glacier Resorts Ltd. in 2014.

The SOFI report also details remuneration and expenses paid to “Elected Officials.” Under this category Mayor Greg Deck received $5,000 remuneration and $2,500 in expenses. Councillors Stephen Ostrander and Nancy Hugunin each received $3,333 remuneration and $1,667 in expenses. In the case of JGMRM’s SOFI report, the category is misleading as none of the named officials are elected and have all been appointed to their positions by the BC Liberal government.

Lead image: A view from the old bridge deck crossing Jumbo Creek at the 15.8 km mark. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW images

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