Editorial: A major blow dealt on the Jumbo battleground

A bureaucratic battle that’s become as familiar to locals and regulars has reached a conclusion — of sorts.

Is it the end or is it the beginning? A bit of both is likely the answer. A bureaucratic battle that’s become as familiar to valley locals and regulars as the local landscape has reached a conclusion — of sorts.

The Environmental Assessment Certificate complete with its 195 conditions granted to Jumbo Glacier Resort in 2004, which was then extended to a ten-year term in 2009, has been pulled and Glacier Resort Ltd.’s dream of building a high end, high altitude ski resort in the Jumbo Valley is fast disappearing down the drain. Many consider the demise of a development in the Jumbo Valley a fait accompli. Meanwhile, developer Oberto Oberti, who has been working on the project since 1990, was quoted on CBC Radio as saying “several options were available” to his battered team.

Unquestionably, Jumbo Glacier Resort as it currently exists on paper — with its phased 50-year build out resulting in 6,250 beds, an extensive network of 23 lifts across two glaciers, and a 3,000 metre-high gondola — is done. As all interested parties await the domino effect on ministerial decision-making that Environment Minister Mary Polak’s announcement has set off — the state of Glacier Resort Ltd.’s tenure being of utmost interest — there is speculation the developer will re-apply for another environmental assessment certificate, possibly for a project smaller in size, scale and scope.

But this would mean having to start over,  with new environmental impact reports, economic viability studies and First Nations consultations, to name just a few of the many aspects required for the lengthy and costly Environmental Assessment Office process.

A lot has changed in the last decade. Ski resorts are considered to be on the losing side  in the climate change debate that’s heating up with every election; the world recession hadn’t hit ten years ago when Jumbo resort was issued its certificate, and now that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has declared Canada’s First Nations to be the victims of widespread cultural genocide, the Ktunaxa Nation’s spiritual claim on the Jumbo Valley suddenly carries a lot more political clout.