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Posted: April 6, 2015

The tail is wagging the dog

chrisconwayBy Chris Conway

It’s a municipality with no residents.

It has an appointed mayor and two councillors. That makes a council of three. Three is just enough. One to chair the council meeting, one to move the motions and, one to second the motions.

All those in favour? Carried! (Unanimously!)

Council meetings are scheduled for early afternoon, mid-week. It’s an inconvenient time for most people and that’s just fine. Increasing public participation is not a strategic priority.

There are no elections. The Letters Patent exclude legal provisions that mandate democratic elections for all other British Columbia municipalities.

There is one developer; Glacier Resorts Ltd.

Oberto Oberti is the president and CEO of Glacier Resorts Ltd.

Oberti is also the president of Pheidas Project Management and he is also the owner of Oberto Oberti Architechture and Urban Design Inc.

The appointed unelected municipal council (of three) is ordered to adopt an Official Community Plan (OCP). By order of the Crown through the Letters Patent, the OCP may not supersede or impair the pre-existing Jumbo Glacier Master Development Agreement.

In any other municipality in British Columbia, the elected council represents the residents. Those councils create an OCP that captures and protects the collective community vision and expectations of the residents. This is how a community creates its future. The process is the very epitome of grassroots Canadian democracy. We recently witnessed this democratic process effectively at work in the process and public hearings for the District of Invermere’s OCP.

Don’t expect grassroots democracy at Jumbo. It’s a done deal. Glacier Resorts Ltd. (Oberti) created a master plan, which was prepared by Pheidas Project Management (Oberti) which was then formalized by a master agreement with the provincial government in 2012.

Then the provincial government created the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality and promised it $250,000 a year of your tax monies. That money is now being used to adopt an Official Community Plan that effectively must not supersede or impair Oberti’s master development plan. The Jumbo OCP is the high-level guidance document, which will be used by the appointed council to enact development bylaws that will establish the rules by which the development proceeds.

In other words, even if there were residents, their community vision and desire would have to conform to Oberti’s Master Plan. Oberti’s vision is the only one that matters at Jumbo and the Letters Patent ensure that will always be the case.

So the adoption of the Official Community Plan is essentially a legally hamstrung predetermined facade meant only to rubber-stamp Oberti’s Master Plan with the trappings of a cynically faked community process that cannot actually occur because there is no community; And even if there were, it could not supersede Oberti’s Master Plan.

There’s the rub. The tail is wagging the dog.

Jumbo is essentially Oberti’s private kingdom. Thanks to the provincial government and in particular Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, the Jumbo municipal council was actually created as legally subservient to Oberti and his Master Plan. Think about that!

How does that even happen?

But wait! It gets worse.

The appointed council is actually paying Oberti, with your money, to create his kingdom.

At the March 17 council meeting of the municipality with no residents, no elections and no accountability, the appointed council unanimously approved a payment to Oberto Oberti Architechture and Urban Design for Master Plan drawings and revisions that are used in the OCP.

The work was not put out to bid. No other quotes were obtained.

Acting CAO Mark Read stated “to replicate work already done and approved by the Crown, would have been prohibitively expensive and patently redundant.” He also stated that Oberti holds copyright on the drawings.

Mayor Greg Deck stated that there are not a lot of other people (besides Oberti) with expertise on that (Jumbo) area. “The payment was a good use of resources,” said Deck.

The amount of the municipality’s payment to Oberto Oberti Architechture and Urban Design was $3,024.00. It came from the provincial coffers. Your tax dollars.

On April 1 the council gave first reading (for the third time) to the OCP adoption bylaw.  At some point sometime soon there will be a mandated public hearing for the Jumbo OCP where anyone whose interests are affected by the OCP may speak to the matter before council.

That’s still one of B.C.’s laws not yet cast aside for Oberti’s Jumbo Kingdom.

Note: The proposed OCP (including 10 map schedules) for the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality is available for review and download at

Chris Conway is a freelance photographer and writer in Invermere. View his photography at

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