On June 18th, Environment Minister Mary Polak determined that the Jumbo Glacier Resort project has not been substantially started. That night, celebrations started for those who had been fighting the development for up to 24 years.
Around 40 people took to Safta’s in Invermere to celebrate the verdict and reminisce on their efforts over the years. Many guests, like director of Jumbo Creek Conservation Society Jim Galloway, sported their prized “I LOVE JUMBO WILD,” t-shirts and sweaters.
“I am ecstatic,” Galloway said. “That environmental certificate deserved to be pulled because no one in their right mind could possibly say that they had achieved a substantial start to the project.”
The result of Ms. Polak’s decision is that Glacier Resort Ltd.’s environmental assessment certificate has expired. The proponent cannot proceed with developing this project unless a new certificate is obtained.
Longtime Invermere councillor Bob Campsall was also at Safta’s to celebrate. Campsall has been fighting the Jumbo development since the very beginning, isolating himself as one of the strongest voices against the developer’s plans. In fact, Campsall got involved with municipal politics in 1996 to try to protect the natural landscape of the Columbia Valley.
“I am so, so pleased,” Campsall said. “Mary Polak, as a representative of this government, has just gone up so high in my estimation for having the courage to make that decision. I know that the pressure on her was very much to go the other way.”
Campsall said in moments of victory like this one for him and the other people people who have been advocating against the project for many years, it is important to reflect on all the hard work that has been put in.
“This has been going on for 25 years now, and we have known all along that it was not a good project for us or our children,” Campsall said. “The people who have stuck with fighting against it… three cheers for them.”
Rob Gibbons, a guide for RK Heliski, told The Valley Echo earlier in the day he was thrilled to hear the fight can finally stop for a little while.
“It is also great to see after the government seemingly doing everything possible to push this forward, that they finally realized enough is enough,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons said that Polak’s decision was probably the end of the battle but not the war.
“This has been going for so long and I have been fighting it personally and on behalf of RK Heliski for so long that I cannot believe that this can suddenly just be over,” Gibbons said. “This is the start of another long process, but I think it is great news. I suspect it will end up as lawsuits.”