Provincial government appoints Jumbo municipal council
Bad day for democracy says EcoSociety

Nov. 20, 2012
A three-person municipal council for the Jumbo development was announced November 20th by BC Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett. The West Kootenay EcoSociety blasted the BC Liberals for the latest move in a 23-year fight over the Jumbo Valley. The creation of a new Municipality is bad for democracy, the environment, and the economy, says the Society.

“It’s an insult to the majority of Kootenay residents, who have made it clear that we need more grizzly habitat, not more resorts,” said David Reid, Executive Director of the EcoSociety. “Regional grizzly populations would take a serious hit with this proposal, and so would wilderness tourism businesses.”

In the latest move, Minister Bill Bennett exercised a new clause in the Local Government Act to appoint the council.The provincial appointees will have the same privileges and responsibilities as elected officials. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities passed a resolution in September opposing the creation of so-called Mountain Resort Municipalities.

The government move is the latest in a decades-long fight over the ski resort proposal of 5500 housing units in the middle of the wild area 55 km west of Invermere.

“It’s nonsense to call something a municipality when there are literally no human inhabitants,” said Reid.  “This is a terrible precedent that allows the province to make local land use decisions through their appointed council. These appointees aren’t accountable to local citizens.”

The appointed mayor and councillors are Greg Deck, Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander. Phil Taylor will be the interim corporate officer, charged with getting the municipality operational by its incorporation date of Feb. 19, 2013.

The resort project still faces big obstacles. The Ktunaxa First Nation has announced they will go to court to protect the valley as part of the Qat’Muk Declaration.  In addition, financing for the $900 million resort has not been secured despite a European fundraising junket that included Minister Bennett.

Reid vowed that residents of the Kootenays would continue to fight. “We’re confident that the determination of our community will keep Jumbo Valley wild forever.”