The West Kootenay EcoSociety is challenging the province’s decision to grant mountain resort municipality status for the Jumbo Glacier Resort.
On Monday (February 18), the EcoSociety filed an application for judicial review in BC Supreme Court that argues that the creation of a municipality with no residents for the purpose of furthering a private development is inherently unconstitutional.
It’s the first legal challenge to changes made under Bill 41 last spring, which altered the Local Government Act to remove the requirement that resort municipalities must have residents.
“Our action today is in defense of democracy,” said EcoSociety executive director David Reid in a press release. “Every Canadian should shudder at the idea of a provincial minister appointing a mayor and council for a municipality with no residents. It’s an affront to our constitution and our democracy.”
This is the third application for judicial review regarding Jumbo Glacier Resort. In 200 5, RK Heliski requested a judicial review of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office process and the decision to grant an environmental assessment certificate in 2004. The challenge was unsuccessful.
The Ktunaxa Nation filed an application for judicial review of the resort’s approval on November 30 last year, arguing that the intended location for the resort is at the heart of Qat’muk, one of its main sacred sites.
“We deliberated long and hard over whether to file this application,” said Reid in the release. “In the end, we couldn’t sit by and see this perversion of democracy move forward in an area that we have fought to protect for 20 years. We’re confident that the court will agree with us, and that the Jumbo Wild! community will support our efforts.”
The West Kootenay EcoSociety has been a long-standing member of the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild! and an active opponent of the proposed ski resort since 1994.
According to the release, the EcoSociety is filing the application with the support and co-operation of the coalition, and with partial funding from West Coast Environmental Law.
The BC Attorney General and Minister of Culture, Community Development, and Sport Bill Bennett have been named as parties in the case. Based on previous judicial reviews, the process could take as long as six months to resolve. If the province wins the case, the society will be liable to pay the province’s legal fees.
The first Jumbo Glacier mountain resort municipality council meeting with appointed mayor Greg Deck and councillors Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander took place on the afternoon of Tuesday (February 19) in the Radium Hot Springs council chambers. Meeting coverage will appear in the next issue of The Valley Echo.