Letter to the Editor: Democracy defended

Whether a Mountain Resort Municipality (MRM) in the Jumbo Valley is created by a cabinet minister or by the entire provincial cabinet...

Dear Editor,

Whether a Mountain Resort Municipality (MRM) in the Jumbo Valley is created by a cabinet minister or by the entire provincial cabinet does not change the fact that it is a stupid idea (and a violation of democratic principles). An appointed council responsible for an area with zero population is not only silly, it is dangerous and expensive.  The only purpose for creating such a pretend town (several suggestions for names include the District of Dumbo and Bennett-Ville) is to avoid a public process and a land-use decision that involves elected and accountable people. Whether the puppets who would be appointed to the council in Jumbo are “local” or not is completely irrelevant because they will not be accountable or even autonomous in their decision making.

As it stands right now, the proponent behind the Jumbo resort could apply for rezoning through the RDEK and follow the same public process that every other land owner and developer in the region has to follow — including the ski resorts of Panorama Mountain Village and Fernie Alpine Resort. To circumnavigate proper process will cost us, the taxpayers of British Columbia, over a hundred thousand a year to pay for an administrator salary and to set up all of the paper work for the town with no people, and no one can indicate when — if ever — there might be a population and a tax base large enough to allow this white elephant to be self sufficient and hold democratic elections and function like any other local government in the province is expected to do (and any new areas considering incorporation have to prove that they can do from day one).

Some have compared the would be banana republic of Jumbo to several B.C. mining towns that were created instantly a long time ago. The difference between the mining towns (i.e. Elkford and Tumbler Ridge) is that within a short period of time (usually two years) there was a population base large enough to hold elections, and that the purpose of creating these communities was to provide a home for mine workers and their families to live — not for real estate speculation and resort development. Some of these communities also pre-date the current regional district system, which, if it had been in place, would be a much simpler way to administer the land zoning of an undeveloped area.

Does the end justify the means? If a proposal can’t play by the current rules and has to rely on candidate Clovechok and friends to create new ones which suppress basic principles of fairness and democracy, and if a proposal can’t even pay the administration costs (makes you wonder who will pay for the road), is there something to worry about? I think so. If candidate Clovechok is unsuccessful at getting elected, perhaps there will be a space waiting for him on Jumbo council?

Gerry Taft

Mayor, District of Invermere

 

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