Wildsight Testifies in Court to Stop Jumbo Glacier Resort's Development

(Credit: Jumbo Glacier Resort)

Yet another appeal is making its way through B.C. Supreme Court as Glacier Resorts wants to get their environmental certificate renewed and extended.

The ski resort's development in the wilderness west of Invermere has been a contentious issue for well over a decade.

They were originally issued an environmental certificate many years ago, but in 2014, then-Environment Minister Mary Pollack ruled that construction had not substantially started by the 10-year deadline. This meant that the certificate had expired.

Then in August 2018, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Carla Forth sided with the key proponent, saying that the matter should be reconsidered. Environmental group Wildsight, law firm Ecojustice, and the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society are now fighting to appeal this ruling.

Executive Director of Wildsight Robyn Duncan says they were granted intervener status in the case, meaning that, given their unique position and perspectives, they can make presentations in the trial that could be deemed relevant.

"What we're looking for here is for the court to uphold the Environmental Assessment Act and uphold this important piece of legislation with the limited number of years environmental certificates are granted for, but we're also looking to defend that in the long term, so not just for Jumbo, but looking at other projects and having that strong precedent stay in place."

The two sides have gone back and forth about just how much development had occurred before the deadline. The Vice President of the architectural firm designing the project previously told Summit 107 that they had done as much development as they possibly could given a series of delays they were faced with, while Duncan counters by saying that only a few slabs on concrete were laid that the developers "pretended were foundations for a building."

She argues that the original certificate should no longer be valid because the level of science around grizzly bears and the impacts that a large resort like this could have in the area has changed drastically since then.

"At the time this environmental certificate was granted, you know, we knew that it was a very important area for grizzly bears, but we didn't understand just how important."

The Ktunaxa Nation had previously spoken in court as well on the matter, declaring that the Jumbo Valley was of key cultural and spiritual significance to the First Nation and its people, and therefore, the area should not have any industrial activities.

With two days of the appeals wrapping up Tuesday in the Supreme Court chambers, the presiding judge will now take some time to make her decision as to whether Glacier Resorts should get their permit reinstated or not.

Audio: Robyn Duncan, Executive Director, Wildsight

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