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Posted: June 18, 2015

Common sense on display

e-KNOW Editorial

Oftentimes nowadays, common sense is spurned in favour of dollars, especially when it comes to government.

But lo and behold – a crack of light yonder shines o’er on the Island Vancouver.

This afternoon, B.C. Minister of Environment Mary Polak announced that Glacier Resort Ltd.’s (GRL) Jumbo project has not been substantially started.

Environment Minister Mary Polak
Environment Minister Mary Polak

As a result, she said, GRL’s environmental assessment certificate has expired and it cannot proceed with developing the project unless a new certificate is obtained.

The minister was required to make a determination because the Environmental Assessment Act requires that all approved projects must be substantially started within the time limit set out in the certificate or the certificate expires.

GRL argues that the few splashes of cement it poured for a day lodge, located in an avalanche path, last fall was substantial infrastructure.

Unbelievably, for a provincial government that has ignored common sense with this issue for well over a decade, Polak today changed course and stuck to the letter of the law as per the environmental assessment certificate issued on Oct. 12, 2004.

Of course this isn’t over. Many are already sounding off about this being the death knell for Jumbo, and it may be.

But don’t count out Oberto Oberti, the man who hatched and pushed the Jumbo dream.

Today’s announcement is the culmination of 25 year’s work, beginning with Japanese backers eventually chased away by their own flagging economy and, surely, the contentiousness of the issue, which has in part divided the population of the Kootenays. If anyone has proven they are capable of hanging on like a crowsnest outlook in a hurricane, it’s Oberto.

Some have argued that there has been silent majority rooting for Jumbo to succeed but those people have always been wrong or were speaking on behalf of the proponents. Kind of like listening to defence lawyers do their shtick.

So when government continued to push this thing along, despite about two-thirds of the population of the region opposing it for many different reasons, common sense seemed like a more and more alien concept in this parts, when we viewed Victoria.

Let’s not forget that the NDP supported this project until Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Jim Doyle began noticing that everywhere he went, there were lots of people shouting mad about Jumbo and he began to know the project supports by their nicknames because there were so few of them (at least willing to admit it).

Hence, in fairness to the Liberal government, it was not easy for them to follow a common sense path when they inherited Jumbo. Lawsuits and the like loomed should they take the wrong step, after the province had dragged Oberto and company through such lengthy processes.

Now, to be completely harsh on the province, for anyone to think that such a scheme would work in a good economic climate was folly – and it was because it never happened despite being located in the backyard of one of the Calgary oil millionaire scene’s most popular playgrounds during the crazy greedy days of the mid to late 1990s.

Yet there was Victoria’s wagon hitched to Jumbo, a-rollin’ and staggerin’ along. Then a wand is waved and the town with no people is formed, along with several wagonloads of provincial coin. It was around this time that devout conservatives with beliefs bordering on ‘pave the rain forest’ began to smell the rat that has been Jumbo.

And since the world’s economy hit the skids in 2008, the concept of a $1 billion ski resort on Crown land really began to seem nuts, especially in the light of fading numbers of skiers world-wide.

Common sense screamed that this issue be put to bed once and for all but doors were held open and paths cleared by the government until today, when Minister Polak showed that some common sense still exists in Victoria.

Nice to see.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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