The latest twist in the battle over the proposed development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort near Invermore, British Columbia is unfolding in Canada’s highest court today. The suit involves the Glacier Resorts Ltd development corporation and the Ktunaxa First Nation, who claim that the resort would violate their religion by infringing upon the the great Grizzly Bear Spirit. The case has been previously dismissed by the B.C. Supreme Court, with the court stating that appropriate measures have been taken.
The case is also a milestone as it is the first time the Canadian Supreme Court acts upon the indigenous religious freedom claim under the Canada’s rights charter.
General location of the development, in the central Purcell Mountains of BC:
The resorts plans for development:
The battle over the Jumbo ski resort has been raging for 25 years. Initially, the plan was for a large resort with 7,000 beds and a “mountain village incorporated municipality,” of which there is only one other in B.C. (Sun Peaks). However, the environmental assessment on those plans expired in 2015, after the resort, plagued by the opposition, was unable to begin construction. Legally, they do have the option to pursue a smaller resort with only 2,000 beds and it appears that they are attempting to do so, although precise details are difficult to come by, and they will have many bureaucratic hoops to clear.
The developers, to their credit, have withstood the most rigorous environmental assessment for such a project in Canadian history, the process taking 9 years. They have stressed that it will be a skiing, and not real estate, destination. In a 1998 study of Grizzlies in the region, only 2 out of 33 we’re resident to the Jumbo valley. They have also stressed that the area already receives heavy traffic from visitors, and has a history of intense natural resource extraction (logging).
The opposition, led by canadian non-profit Wildsight and supported by companies like Patagonia, claims that the resort will disturb natural, untouched habitat especially for Grizzlies. They want this to remain the domain of nature, and the avid ski tourers and hikers who venture here year round. In a 2008 poll of nearby residents, the development had little support.
The resort would offer the only year round, lift-accessed glacier skiing in North America.