While newspaper columnists across the country spent the one-year anniversary of the Qat’muk Declaration debating the future of the Jumbo Glacier Resort, Glacier Resorts Limited vice president Grant Costello is still confident the long-proposed development is headed forward.
“It shows they’re getting desperate. They’re grasping at straws,” Costello said of a press conference hosted by the Ktunaxa Nation that saw East Kootenay-raised hockey player Scott Neidermayer throw his support behind the Jumbo-opposed first nation.
“It’s typical of these protests, they try to drag in a big name to give them some weight.”
Costello is also critical of an economic report released by the nation that says there is no proof the resort will have economic benefits for the region or the province.
The Schaffer Report, complied for the Ktunaxa by Simon Fraser professor Dr. Marvin Schaffer, argues the resort would likely divert traffic from other ski sites in the province (specifically, traffic from locals and visitors from elsewhere in B.C. or Alberta) rather than bringing in new ski visitors.
“Their spending at Jumbo Glacier would reduce the amount that they would spend elsewhere in the province or country as a whole,” the report says.
But Costello says that’s not the case, and the argument misunderstands the ski industry.
“People said that about Kicking Horse [Resort in Golden], that it’s going to steal all the skiers from Panorama,” he said.
“Well no, Kicking Horse got 100,000 visits and Panorama’s went up. If you study the ski industry you know that a lot of the stuff these people are saying, it’s just not true.”
Costello said most of the report’s criticisms are ones Glacier Resorts Ltd. management have heard before, and he’s not expecting them to have much impact on the decision making process for Jumbo, or on investor confidence.
“To think that a ski resort that operates 365 days a year with some of the best snow in North America and the longest season couldn’t be successful is preposterous,” he added.
“It has no substance and nobody in government will take it seriously.”
Rumours of final approval for the project are swirling once again, but Costello says he doesn’t know when a decision will arrive — though he says the process is “closer to getting to the end.”
‘COMMUNITY LEADERS’ SHOW RESORT SUPPORT
While the Ktunaxa Nation made national headlines this week with its renewed opposition to the Jumbo Glacier Resort, a gesture of support for the project is also making the local media rounds.
In June of this year, a group of local politicians and business owners with ties to the Columbia Valley sent a letter to B.C. premier Christy Clark urging her to finalize the Jumbo Glacier Resort process.
“Voters here need to see action from their government,” the letter reads.
“This shovel ready project is tailor made to demonstrate that you intend to achieve jobs for families here in rural British Columbia as well as in coastal shipyards and northern mines.”
The letter, forwarded to a number of media outlets this week including The Valley Echo, contains signatures from 16 self-proclaimed “community leaders in the Columbia Valley.”
That list includes Radium Hot Springs mayor Dee Conklin and former mayor Greg Deck, as well as senior management at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, Panorama Mountain Village, the Copper Point and Eagle Ranch golf courses, Radium Resort and the Radium and Columbia Valley Chambers of Commerce. Doug Clovechok, president of the local BC Liberal constituency, and former Invermere councillor Al Miller also signed the letter.