The BC Environmental Assessment Office advised the proponents of the controversial Jumbo Glacier Resort that the building footprints installed last fall are in violation of the project’s environmental certificate. In a letter to Oberto Oberti dated April 24, Manager of Compliance Autumn Cousins ordered that all construction activity cease unless the proponent is successful in applying for an amendment to the Environmental Certificate.

The Environmental Certificate – originally issued in 2004 – requires that all residential and commercial buildings be outside the avalanche hazard area. An independent analysis of avalanche risk found that the two floating subfloors constructed in October 2014 are partially or entirely within areas with medium to high risk of avalanche. The Environemntal Certificate has been a matter of intense scrutiny as opponents of the project have noted the lack of compliance with measures required to protect endangered species, ensure adequate water supply, and protect Jumbo and Toby creeks, among other issues. The Environmental Assessment Office had previously issued a letter of non-compliance just days before the proponent poured several tons of concrete in the wilderness valley.

“We’re happy to see another nail go into the coffin of this dangerous and unwanted project. The Province needs to hold this project to a high standard and make sure that the developer doesn’t cut corners that could endanger human lives or the environment,” said David Reid of the West Kootenay EcoSociety. “We’re increasingly confident that the project’s compliance problems and failure to start on time mean that we can look forward to the Jumbo Valley staying wild forever.”

Although the developer says the risks can be mitigated, the environmental certificate states taht all building must be outside of the hazard area and does not address mitigation. The EAO’s compliance letter suggests that the proponent can apply for an amendment to the certificate to allow buildings in the hazard area with appropriate mitigation. 

The avalanche risk is only one of several obstacles facing the proposed ski resort. According to a study commissioned by the Ktunaxa Nation, the project accomplished only .5% of its work for Phase I prior to the deadline for the project to substantially start. If the Minister of Environment determines that the work to date is not “substantial,” the developer would have to undergo a new environmental assessment process. In addition, the West Kootenay EcoSociety and Ktunaxa Nation have legal action pending in BC courts that will be heard in the next two months.