The Regional District of East Kootenay voted to keep the decision on whether to approve a new ski resort in the Jumbo Valley local, after the mayor of Sparwood put forward a motion last Friday (March 3) that would have deferred the decision to the province.
The proponents of the resort, Vancouver-based Glacier Resorts Ltd., have not submitted their application for zoning to the RDEK yet, but are expected to table it once the province has approved changes to the Master Plan.
The vote was not a final decision on whether to rezone the area for the proposed resort, but to ensure that the decision remains in the community.
According to Sparwood Mayor David Wilks, who brought the motion forward, the proponents deserve to have the project approved or denied in a timely way.
"The way I look at it is that this as been going on since 1991, 15 years, and the RDEK has only been involved for two years in the core process. Other than that the province has been dealing with this for 13 of the 15 years, and suddenly it will be back on our lap," said Wilks.
"What concerns me to some degree is that if we keep (the decision) and refuse zoning, the province can just invoke Bill 75 and override us They could decide that Jumbo is important for the province, and there is nothing we can do about it. They could make the final decision no matter what we decide, so it makes sense to give the decision to them."
Wilks voted yes on his motion, one of only two RDEK directors to do so. The final vote was 13-2 against the motion.
The other yes vote belonged to board chair Greg Deck, the mayor of Radium Hot Springs for six terms, and the RDEK chair for past four years. He is a supporter of the Jumbo Glacier Resort, and is concerned that a vocal minority of opponents is derailing the process.
He described the Friday meeting as "spirited", as the board heard submissions from 18 delegations both for and against the proposed resort. In fact, it was a record turnout of delegates for any meeting in the 41 years the RDEK has held meetings, according to the Invermere Valley Echo.
"The vote was 13-2, and what this reflects more than anything is that some members were only willing to stick their necks out for a winning cause," he said, adding that the vocal opponents to the resort consider themselves to represent the majority of people in the district. He believes the majority of people in the region are still undecided, with a few people strongly for and against the resort battling it out for public opinion.