A member of the Sookenai Singers Drum Group performs at the Akisqnuk Band Hall in November 2011 during a one year anniversary celebration of the Qat'muk Declaration and the Ktunaxa First Nation's opposition to the development of a resort in the Jumbo Valley.

Judgement in Sun Peaks appeal sets precedent for Jumbo: Costello

A recent ruling in the B.C. Court of Appeal will have a positive impact on Jumbo Glacier Resort, according to the project's proponent.

A 2011 ruling that said the provincial government did not consult enough with First Nations prior to the incorporation of Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality has been overturned in the BC Court of Appeal and Glacier Resorts Ltd. senior vice-president Grant Costello believes the decision sets a precedent for Jumbo Glacier Resort.

“The decision will narrow the scope of [First Nations] consultation required for JGR’s incorporation process,”  Costello told The Valley Echo.

Up until 2010, Sun Peaks Resort operated as the Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Improvement District and was governed by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. After the resort was incorporated as Canada’s first mountain resort municipality (MRM) in June 2010, the Adams Lake Indian Band filed a petition against the incorporation on the basis that government consultation with the Adams Lake band had been inadequate. Last year, a B.C. Supreme Court judge agreed and ruled the government had failed to fulfil its constitutional duty, but the government appealed the decision and now the Appeal Court has sided with the government, dismissing the petition and ruling that the impact of incorporation on the Adams Lake claims was at best minimal.

“A decision that is positive for JGR, one that will likely result in MRM status by the end of this year,” said Costello.

But according to Ktunaxa Nation Chair Kathryn Teneese, the BCCA’s decision in this case has little bearing on Ktunaxa claims in the Jumbo Valley.

In late July, the Ktunaxa Nation formally announced its intention to submit an application for judicial review of the B.C. government’s approval of the development of Jumbo Glacier Resort in the Jumbo Valley, which is known in Ktunaxa culture as Qat’muk, one of the nation’s principal sacred sites.

“The BCCA decision pertains to the decision to convert an ‘improvement district’ into a ‘mountain resort municipality’ for a ski resort which has been in existence for more than 50 years… in contrast, the KNC is contesting the establishment of a new ski resort where no one now exists and where no one lives,” said Teneese. “I think it is critically important to make the distinction between creating a municipality ‘out of nothing’, where no one currently lives and there are no potential voters, and converting an existing community to a new form of governance, that is, a mountain resort municipality.”

The Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) is currently engaged in consultation with the BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development regarding a possible decision to establish a Mountain Resort Municipality for the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort, she said.

The Local Government Act was amended earlier this year to allow the creation of a mountain resort municipality in an area with no residents at the time of incorporation, an amendment that “could be used in relation to the proposed [Jumbo] resort” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development told The Valley Echo at the time.