Plans for a year-round ski resort in southeastern British Columbia’s Jumbo Valley have been denied after more than two decades of push back from environmentalists and locals. Jumbo Glacier Resort was first proposed in the early 1990s but has been protested from the very beginning. On Aug. 6, BC Court of Appeal denied the development of the proposed resort due to an expired environmental certificate.
The original plans for the resort covered 15,000 acres including 22 lifts, a gondola reaching to the top of the nearby 11,000-foot peak, hundreds of chalets, hotels, shops, and almost a thousand condos. Jumbo Glacier Resort’s skiable areas would have involved four glaciers: Commander, Farnham, Jumbo, and Karnak.
Jumbo Creek Conservation Society, WIldsight and the Ktunaxa Nation have been fighting the development plans for years. Jumbo Valley is part of Qat’muk, the grizzly bear’s spirit home, and this is sacred land for the Ktunaxa people. Several environmental advocates have also argued that the land is an essential wildlife area and home to many grizzly bears. Jumbo Valley is an important part of the Purcell Mountains’ ecosystem, and a year-round ski resort would greatly disturb the environment.
Although Glacier Resorts Ltd. received an Environmental Certificate allowing the development to begin, the certificate has now expired. An initial assessment was conducted in the 1990s and the Environmental Certificate was awarded in 2004. It expired 10 years after it was issued, and Glacier Resorts Ltd. failed to substantially begin the project before its expiration date. The certificate was first ruled no longer viable during a court hearing in 2015, however; the decision was appealed and back-and-forth court battles ensued.
“It stands to reason that developers can’t be allowed to hang on to an Environmental Certificate forever. The original assessment for this project was conducted in the 1990s, and was based on information which is now outdated,” says Olivia French, Ecojustice Lawyer.
The latest court hearing, held on Aug. 6, ruled against Glacier Resorts Ltd. The court ruled that the development plans cannot continue until a new certificate is obtained. It is unknown if Glacier Resorts Ltd. will seek re-assessment, but as of right now Jumbo’s habitat will stay wild.