Jumbo council in holding pattern
By Anne Jardine
The streets were deserted and the council chamber was quiet as Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality (JGMRM) presented its Annual Report and 2017 Statement of Financial Information at its June 19 public meeting at the Village of Radium Hot Springs office on this, its fifth year of municipal activity.
Mayor Greg Deck and Councillors Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander, appointed by the B.C. Government in 2013, were all present at the meeting, along with Radium and Jumbo Chief Administrative Officer Mark Read. Two members of the public also attended the meeting.
Mayor Deck welcomed the visitors and called the meeting to order. The atmosphere was cordial and calm.
There were several questions about the reports and documents presented. The first question concerned the stipends paid to the three appointed municipal officers. Those amounts were confirmed as $3,750 for Deck and $2,500 each for Hugunin and Osterander.
For their stipends, the appointed officials are expected to meet approximately every two months to attend to the business of the Jumbo Municipality: adopting the official community plan, passing bylaws, setting budgets, monitoring the permitting process for construction of the Jumbo Village services, approving expenditures, and tracking the finances.
The administration of these processes and preparation of official documents fall to CAO Read and to the other Village of Radium staff who work for the Jumbo Municipality under a fee for service contract arrangement.
“We have deliberately reduced our council and admin costs in order to conserve cash on hand, and for the past two years, we have deferred the annual government small communities grant,” Deck said.
Other questions had to do with the financial statement’s line “Accumulated Surplus” which shows this to be $448,044. The past financial statements have seen this figure grow year on year from $97,757.00 in 2013.
The question was whether this amount is a real and workable figure. The answer was that the amount is hard to characterize because it includes the assets of the Municipality, such as the bridge. It seems the accumulated surplus is not as simple as a savings account.
Read explained, “We must follow the municipal accounting rules set down in a thick book of regulations that are used by all local governments. The figures are verified and audited annually, and our auditor’s statements are included in the document.”
In terms of the municipal operations of the past year, Deck explained that during the time the Supreme Court of Canada deliberations on the Ktunaxa First Nation’s challenge to the Jumbo Resort’s existence, and following the province’s 2015 cancellation of the Jumbo Environmental Assessment Certificate, the Jumbo Resort construction has ceased and the council’s municipal role has been in a holding pattern.
Now that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled against the Ktunaxa claim that the Jumbo development was in breach of their charter right to freedom of religion, the resort’s proponent will be seeking a judicial review of the former BC Ministry of Environment’s decision to cancel its environmental certificate.
If this appeal fails, the proponent will have to file a new Master Plan and reapply for an environmental assessment certificate with a new smaller footprint and a decreased number of beds.
The municipal council is not making representations to provincial government on behalf of the Jumbo Glacier Resort. “Those negotiations are between the government and the JGR proponent. If they are successful, the Jumbo municipal council’s role will be to develop a new official community plan,” Deck explained.
For the Jumbo municipality, once the environmental certificate is in place, Deck stated, “The next hurdles will be the modification and adoption of the official community plan and then the construction of an access road, which may be complicated, given the technical requirements and costs involved.”
Read added, “And then the next step will be the comprehensive building of the village, which will require a much more active role for the council.”
For now, though, the appointed officers voted to approve their 2018 Annual Reports and 2017 Financial Statements.
“We await the outcome of the negotiations going on between the proponent and the B.C. government. We have no secret agenda; nothing to hide, our meetings are public, and our documents are all available on the website,” Deck said.
And indeed, the entire history of the council’s official activities has been set down in the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality website.
The website does track the tax dollars that have been going into this village with no human residents. Provincial government transfers to the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality have added up to $855,299.00 thus far:
$265,000.00 for 2013;
$363,789.00 for 2014;
$121,510.00 for 2015;
$52, 500.00 for 2016;
$52,500.00 for 2017.
“We are an institutional confirmation of a land use decision, but at this point we are not making specific plans or formulating and new bylaws,” Deck concluded.
If you have detailed questions, you can work with Mark (Read) and Karen (Sharp) at the Radium Village Office.”
The original master plan for this resort was introduced in 1993. For two decades, the plan was subjected to the most complicated and rigorous government approval process imaginable, culminating with the appointment of this council in 2013.
And so the 25-year saga of the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality continues.