VANCOUVER – The B.C. Supreme Court must uphold a 2015 government decision that forced developers to halt work on the contentious Jumbo Glacier Resort Project, environmental and citizen advocacy groups say.
They say the project would cause widespread harm to the environment and local communities if built, and that it cannot go ahead because an environmental assessment certificate greenlighting it lapsed years ago.
“There are good reasons why the law has built-in expiration dates when it comes to approving projects with serious environmental impacts, including that science and best practices are continually evolving.” Ecojustice’s Alan Andrews said. “Glacier had ten years to get this project off the ground but made almost no progress other than pouring concrete in a known avalanche path. They can’t just pick up their shovels now and build a resort based on outdated information.”
Ecojustice lawyers are representing Jumbo Creek Conservation Society and Wildsight in a three-day hearing on the matter.
Opponents of the project say it would devastate Jumbo Valley, which is located deep in British Columbia’s Purcell Mountains.
The valley is an important habitat and breeding ground for grizzly bears and other wildlife. It is also spiritually important to the Ktunaxa First Nation, which calls the area “Qat’muk” and believes that it is home to the grizzly bear spirit.
“If built, the Jumbo Glacier Resort would fragment a critical section of one of North America’s most important wildlife corridors. Grizzlies depend on this connected habitat to maintain healthy populations regionally and even continentally,” Robyn Duncan, the executive director of Wildsight, said.
The provincial government first granted Glacier Resorts Ltd. an environmental assessment certificate for the project in 2004.
In 2015, B.C.’s environment minister deemed the certificate expired when she concluded that Glacier had failed to “substantially start” the project by the certificate’s October 2014 deadline.
Now the developer is asking the court to overturn that decision.
“The Jumbo Valley and the existing communities of the region have been under the shadow of this resort proposal for more than two decades,” Jim Galloway, a spokesperson for Jumbo Creek Conservation Society said. “And for 25 years, people and grassroots groups like ours have fought to protect it from this mega-real estate development. Together, we are committed to keeping Jumbo wild.”