A public hearing on a new proposed zoning bylaw for Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality drew two speakers, neither of them in favour of the bylaw or the Jumbo Glacier Resort project in general.
The bylaw allows for the construction of ski lifts, lodges and other ski resort infrastructure, and applies to the controlled recreation area in the higher alpine areas of the municipality, with the exception of the Farnham Glacier. It was given initial readings during Jumbo council’s Tuesday, July 15th council meeting.
An audience of four members of the public was present at the hearing, including the two speakers — Susan Bond, who lives near Kimberley, and Windermere resident Doug Anakin.
Ms. Bond said during her presentation that she was at the meeting despite the bylaw pertaining to somewhere far outside her neighbourhood, because there are no residents or other organizations in the municipality to speak to the bylaw.
“I’m not here today to discuss the merits, or otherwise, of this zoning bylaw,” said Ms. Bond. “I’m here to say that this public hearing should not be taking place. This bylaw should not exist and none of us should be here today.”
Mr. Anakin, speaking to the construction of lifts allowed for under the bylaw, questioned how lifts could be safely built on moving glaciers.
“It could potentially harm people if lifts collapse,” he said, adding that although he commends efforts to increase tourism in the valley, he thinks the Jumbo Glacier Resort project has missed the boat by coming 20 years too late and that its success will come at the expense of other ski hills in the region.
“It’s going to be tough to have another big ski resort in the East Kootenay,” he said.
Jumbo mayor Greg Deck noted council members were supposed to only listen to public input during the hearing, rather than engage in discussion or debate, but Jumbo chief administrative officer Mark Read was able to respond to Mr. Anakin’s questions about lift safety on glaciers, saying that the lifts envisioned for Jumbo would be ‘floating lifts’, which are movable and are frequently used in European ski resorts that encompass glaciers.
“There is technology in place to allow lifts to exist on glaciers. I’m not an expert, but they have been in place around the world for some time,” said Mr. Read.
Prior to the speakers, Mr. Read read out the two written submissions Jumbo municipality had received as part of the public hearing, one from Shuswap councillor and Jumbo First Nations Advisory Body member Barb Cote saying the proposed bylaw is consistent with previous agreement between the Shuswap and the municipality, and one from the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations saying that the bylaw is consistent with the Jumbo Glacier Resort master plan.
The bylaw discussed at the hearing pertains to land that will stay with the provincial government and be leased by the ski hill operator, not land that will be used for commercial purposes in the base area. It allows for the land to be developed as a ski area, including the construction of ski lifts, hotels, day lodges, restaurants, retail offices, staff and employee accommodation, ski schools, ski patrol buildings, service and maintenance buildings, and the associated water, sewer, power, communication and transportation systems.
The Farnham Glacier area of the municipality is covered under a somewhat similar bylaw passed by council in May 2013, although the scope of infrastructure envisioned under the Farnham area bylaw is considerably smaller.