April 3 2012.

April 3 2012.

Jumbo Wild rallies as French tour area

French ski industry experts in B.C. to tour the site of the proposed Jumbo Resort were greeted by more than 80 opponents of the project.

French ski industry experts in B.C. to tour the site of the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort were greeted by more than 80 chanting, singing opponents of the project when they toured the area March 20.

According to Robyn Duncan of Wildsight, a group of Jumbo Wild supporters gathered in the lower parking lot at Panorama before marching together up to the RK Heliski area where a technical team from France Neige International, an association representing dozens of ski resorts in the French Alps, were gathered.

She and Jumbo Creek Conservation Society representative Jim Galloway then offered the team an information package containing economic reports on the project and grizzly bear studies conducted in the area.

“There were signs and banners and there was some chanting and it was all very peaceful and respectful,” says Duncan. “The dialogue went very well. They accepted the information and asked questions and were somewhat surprised to hear the level of opposition and some of the science behind the grizzly bears. They were unaware of that.”

Galloway says the resort’s opponents learned investors were due to be in town about 36 hours before the protest, and decided speaking to the delegation was key.

“The main message was that this will turn into an economic disaster,” he says. “We’re going to educate every potential investor we find, and we’re going to get our message out to them.”

“As an investor you want to know all of the information moving forward with a decision,” adds Duncan. “So that was our express goal, to deliver that message on behalf of the people of the Kootenays and the grizzly bears.”

The Kootenay trip comes after a delegation featuring resort proponents Glacier Resorts Ltd. and a number of local political and business figures headed to France in February.

In addition to meetings with France Neige International, the local delegation also met with Caisson des Depots, a bank involved with the industry, and Compagnie des Alpes, an operating company.

Both Galloway and Duncan say the speed with which the rally came together speaks to the determination of those who don’t want to see the project move forward, despite the provincial government’s approval of the resort earlier this month.

“I think everyone is still feeling not shocked at the decision, but saddened, and I think very determined to make sure the development does not move forward,” Duncan added.