The results are in from a plebiscite held by the Regional District of the East Kootenay in Electoral Area F regarding the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.
The plebiscite is non-binding for the Regional District when making a decision whether to rezone the area for the resort. However, according to local environmental group Wildsight, it does answer the resort developers’ claims that their project enjoys strong local support.
Of the 816 ballots that were counted, 643 were against the resort compared to 173 in favour, which works out to 79 per cent opposition. More than 268 ballots were thrown out because the respondent did not include an address, or were based outside the boundaries of Area F. It’s unknown how these ballots, if counted, would have affected the outcome.
Wildsight, a local environmental group that opposes the project, says they are not surprised by the results.
“They reflect what Wildsight has articulated all along,” said Kat Hartwig.
“The way this all got started was that Lillian Rose, the director of Area F, was concerned that constituents felt they hadn’t been heard on the issue. These results just support what we’ve seen in other polling.”
According to Hartwig, there was a referendum in Invermere on the subject, a poll by the Valley Echo newspaper, and a public input period during the environmental assessment. In each case the opposition to the resort has been over 80 per cent.
It’s unclear at this point what the next steps are for the province or the developer. The province approved the Master Plan for the resort in August, which allows the developer to apply for re-zoning from the regional district. That zoning is required before the province can approve a Master Development Plan.
However, some groups are concerned that the province will use the provisions of Bill 11 to designate the area as a resort region, and circumvent the local zoning requirement.