Area at the centre of the controversy is about 50 km west of Invermere.

Area at the centre of the controversy is about 50 km west of Invermere.

Jumbo decision miffs MP, pleases and interests others

Issue relates to the struggle between those with economic or environmental agendas

Opinions on the provincial government’s March 20 approval of the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort near Invermere are, not surprisingly, split.Located a fair distance to the west of the Jumbo Valley, people the Castlegar area are familiar with the issue that’s been in the news for the past couple of decades.

Pam McLeod of the Castlegar Chamber of Commerce is keen on the development and explained why on March 22.”I think it’s a great thing,” said McLeod, “that brings economic flow in the community and surrounding communities.” She said she hopes the project would not add to the so-called “black window” effect found already in resort style communities like Invermere, what with a high number of absentee landowners.

In contrast, BC Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko did not mince words in speaking against the resort development.

“The Liberal government has seen fit to make this decision in spite of years of fighting against the development of Jumbo by communities and individuals,” he stated in a March 21 press release.

“Ignoring the voice of the people and paving the way for an unwanted development is short-sighted and irresponsible,” said the NDP MP. “What is this government doing?”

Boosters of the proposed resort tout economic benefits associated with the project while opponents have focussed on the value of leaving the pristine area, home to significant wildlife including grizzly bears, as it is. The site is also carries historic and spiritual significance for the Ktunaxa First Nation.

“The Jumbo resort is being proposed in a region that already has a dozen ski resorts within 150 kilometres,” Atamanenko is further quoted. “The proposed access road upgrade is at great taxpayer expense. Which British Columbians are benefitting from this project?”

Again from the commercial point of view, Pam McLeod feels positives win the day in relation to the Jumbo issue.

“I can understand the points of view of the residents and business community over there (Invermere area), it’s definitely going to be a challenge,” she said. “There will be barriers but it would be great if everybody could recognize the economic benefits to it and what it could do long-term for that area.”

Another political rep, – MLA Katrine Conroy is squarely in favour of leaving well enough alone on and around the Jumbo Glacier.

“People in Kootenay West have written and e-mailed me to say they strongly disagree with building a resort in the Jumbo Valley,” said Conroy. “It doesn’t make sense environmentally or economically.”

In a press release the MLA related that it had been recently discovered that the proponent, despite years of claiming otherwise, does not have a financial backer.

“So this project has no support and no money, but the government is determined to try and force it through,” Conroy concluded.

Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff did not solidly support or oppose the Jumbo project when reached on Thursday by the Castlegar News.

“Twenty two years to make a decision is a long time,” he said. “Whether it’s right, wrong or otherwise it’s a decision made. That’s the key part of this whole thing, if ‘no’ was the answer at the beginning it should be ‘no’ today?… or whatever the case is.”

The mayor noted the need for a lot of financing to come together if the concept can become reality.

“It’s still sitting at that pinnacle,” he said, “whether it falls left or right will be an interesting thing to watch over the years.”