view from Bastille Mountain by pat morrow.jpeg

West Kootenay EcoSociety filed an Amended Petition today respecting its legal challenge to the incorporation of the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality (“JGMRM”). The Amended Petition asks the BC Supreme Court to quash the incorporation of the personless municipality, and strike down the patchwork legislative amendments which purport to allow the creation of such an entity.

The Amended Petition filed today clarifies West Kootenay EcoSociety’s legal argument challenging the incorporation of the JGMRM. The West Kootenay EcoSociety argues that for the Province to create a municipality in B.C., there must be a local population as well as a defined area. According to the petition, a personless municipality contradicts the common law principles that municipalities must be democratic and must act in the public interest. 

The West Kootenay EcoSociety further asserts that the patchwork legislative amendments to the Local Government Act implemented through Bill 41 in 2012 create inconsistency and incoherence within the Local Government Act as well as other municipal legislation, most notably the Community Charter. The creation of the JGMRM appears to be the first time in history that an area without a population was granted municipal status, as well as being the first time the Province sought to incorporate a municipality under the provisions implemented through Bill 41.

 “In the government’s rush to pave the way for the Jumbo Resort, they’ve deeply undermined the democratic process,” said David Reid, Executive Director of the West Kootenay EcoSociety. “Not only is the legislation inconsistent and incoherent, but we’re concerned that the Minister and Lieutenant Governor in Council have disregarded legal and constitutional requirements in creating the municipality. The Jumbo Resort Municipality is an unlawful and illegitimate body, and should not be moving forward with zoning and other potentially substantial actions until the court says otherwise.”

The amended petition was filed one day before the Jumbo Mountain Resort Municipality is to hold a public hearing on a zoning in the Jumbo Valley that would allow a day lodge and ski lifts. The resort proponent Glacier Resorts Limited would still need permits from the Resort Branch of the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations in order to begin construction. The Ministry has been clearing avalanche debris off the Jumbo road for over a week to allow access to the proposed resort area.

West Kootenay EcoSociety and other organizations are encouraging concerned citizens to camp at the Jumbo Road in August and September for the purposes of monitoring any ongoing development. The organization claims that the proposed developer has not met the 195 legally-binding commitments as part of its environmental approval. The Environmental Assessment Office is investigating these complaints, and encourages the public to assist in monitoring compliance.

“We’re inviting people to a fun and family-friendly camp-out on Jumbo Creek forest service road,” Reid said. “These campers will be the eyes and ears to make sure that the Environmental Assessment Office is aware if the developer moves forward before meeting all of its commitments to the BC public and to the environment.”

The Jumbo Resort was first proposed in 1991 and received environmental approval in 2004. BC law requires that the environmental certificate expire if the project has not “substantially started” by October 2014, ten years to the day from the initial approval.

Click the link below to read the amended petition. 

Photo credit Pat Morrow