Like the group that has just returned from a trip to ski hills in Europe (“Potential Jumbo investors planning B.C. visit,” February 22) I too have recently travelled to Europe to experience skiing there.
Without question it is fabulous. The hills are huge, the food is spectacular and the atmosphere is wonderful.
That being said, it was instantly clear to me that the experiences I had there are not transferable to Canada in general or the Jumbo Valley specifically.
Presumably in an attempt to explain possible economic benefits a resort in Jumbo might have on the residents of the Columbia Valley, Doug Clovechok stated that “farmers wouldn’t be in business without the ski hills.”
This is true in Europe where the hills are used to farm and ranch in the spring and summer and the ski lift operators lease the land from these farmers so that there may be skiing in the winter. Clearly Doug’s statement has no value in this discussion as there is no farming in the Jumbo valley. Statements like this serve only to confuse the discussion.
It is also very important to note that the ski resorts in Europe are not resorts as we know them. They are towns, often centuries old, that have ski lifts in them, not ski hills that have resorts built around them.
As such, the hills have become integral parts of the existing economies not competitors to the existing economies.
Were the situation the same in Invermere, all of the guests that stay at Panorama would stay in independent hotels, eat in local restaurants and shop at local shops.
So while it is great to say that in Europe there is lots of collaboration and that people are not in polarized camps, the fact that the hills there are a part of the towns supports this co-operation as existing economies are affected by all decisions.
A ski operation at Jumbo, on the other hand, will have almost no lasting economic impact on the local economies as visitors will simply pass through.
Finally, in my travels I skied in the towns of St. Anton, Kitzbuhl and Schladming all of which are serviced by a population of well over 10,000,000 people within a four hour drive. Within a four hour drive of Jumbo there might be 1,200,000 people most of whom do not ski.
While typically I wouldn’t care if a business were viable or not, in this case risking the integrity of such an important regional ecosystem for a project that has a high probability of failure seems extremely shortsighted.