With a construction deadline looming this Sunday, Jumbo Glacier Resort is also facing two legal challenges — an appeal from the Ktunaxa Nation, emboldened by the ground-breaking Tsilhqot'in decision, and another lesser known challenge from West Kootenay EcoSociety.
The Nelson-based non-profit group is challenging the incorporation of Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality.
The municipality, with no residents and no buildings, was created by the provincial government after an amendment to the Local Government Act. The province then appointed a mayor and two councillors who make decisions on planning and zoning for the resort, but, under the Letters Patent, they are bound to follow the provincially approved resort Master Plan.
EcoSociety executive director David Reid said a B.C Supreme Court date is expected before the end of the year. The petition asks the court to quash the incorporation and strike down legislative amendments that allowed creation of the municipality.
“The idea is that a city should have citizens. This is undermining the ability of our region to participate in democracy – otherwise the people of East Kootenay would have input into the planning process,” he said.
Jumbo council is not accountable to voters, so the public is disenfranchised, Reid said.
“It also creates a precedent. If (the court action) fails, it means they could create a municipality anywhere.”
That could mean, if a mine or resource extraction company could not gain local support, the province could get around rules by creating a municipality in the area where no one was living, Reid speculated.
“The opportunity for abuse is enormous.”
Tommaso Oberti, vice president of Pheidias Project Management Corp., the company that came up with the Jumbo vision and design, said the process has been democratic as the Regional District of East Kootenay voted to ask the province to create a resort municipality.
“This is democracy. The regional government (which was Jumbo Glacier Resort’s local government at the time) decided that it was beneficial to the region for the project to be administered locally, as opposed to being administered from Cranbrook,” Oberti said in an e-mailed response to questions.
Image: Brian Turner