Jumbo opponents gearing up for jumbo fight

"There won't be any healing process here," says one Invermere activist, as opponents of the Jumbo Resort begin planning their next moves.

Several local groups have pledge to continue to fight the Jumbo Glacier Resort, which received provincial approval yesterday, but what actions the opposition will take are still in question.

“We don’t have any specific steps set out right now,” Chief Lorne Shovar of the Akisqnuk First Nation told The Echo. “We are looking to any and all options that are available to the Ktunaxa Nation and we’ll proceed from there.”

Jim Galloway, of the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society, said his group is also planning extensive meetings in the coming week, but this soon after the decision it’s difficult to predict what they’ll do.

“We have sprung into action. This has really galvanized us and there will be lots of planning in the days to come,” Galloway said. “This project has been in the works for 20 years, and the past 20 years is going to turn out to be just a warm up for what’s going to happen in the years ahead.”

Robyn Duncan from environmental organization Wildsight confirmed her group is gearing up for a long fight against the project as well.

“We don’t need to watch and wait. It’s strategy time,” she said. “It’s not the end, it’s the next step on a long process. At least we know where we’re going now.”

While Shovar would not comment on the possibility of legal action by the Ktunaxa — which the government has already been questioned on, and has largely shied away from discussing — he said provisions in the master development agreement meant to soothe First Nations concerns about the area’s grizzly bear population were not doing their job.

“The Wildlife Management Area as proposed is completely inadequate for the grizzly bear, it’s basically going to separate populations of grizzly bears, because [that area] is a corridor from north to south for the bears, and that’s how they migrate… it doesn’t nearly mitigate the issues,” he said, adding he does not believe the government’s suggestion that only three or four bears make their home in the Jumbo area.

Wildsight has also criticized the government’s statements on the bears, citing research submitted to the province by biologist Dr. Michael Proctor, which identified the area as a key “regional anchor” for grizzlies in the Kootenays.

“It’s core habitat. Any development hampers the ability of the bears to move north or south,” she said. “It will have a huge impact on North America grizzly populations and to hear the province say it’s only three or four grizzlies is sad.”

Claims by Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett that a final decision on Jumbo will give communities with opposing views on the issue a chance to come together again also aren’t gaining much traction with Jumbo’s opposition.

“There won’t be any healing process here. The fight is just going to get rougher,” said Galloway.

“This healing process is just a pipe dream, I think, of Bill Bennett’s. If he thinks there’s going to be a healing process, I think he’s wrong. I really do. We’re going to fight twice as hard as we have in the past, and other organizations are going to do the same thing.”

With files from Carolyn Grant, Steve Jessel