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Jumbo Glacier Resort nears end of environmental assessment

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1,400 speak out against proposed new ski resort

A new ski resort planned for the Purcell Mountains outside of Invermere is drawing heat from community members who are concerned with the impact it might have on grizzly and mountain goat populations and the 13 other Kootenay ski resorts in the region.

The team behind the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort recently took their proposal on the road to invite public input at open houses in Invermere and Nelson. Although there is some support in nearby communities for the project, which is projected to generate 3,700 person years of construction and another 800 full times jobs, the opposition is well-organized and gathering momentum.

The provincial Environmental Assessment Office, which is currently reviewing the project, has already received more than 1,400 comments in opposition to the project on its Web site and two comments for it in the first two weeks. The call for public comments closes on April 13. The EAO is expected to release its recommendations in September.

In addition to negative comments on the EAO Web site, between 700 and 1,500 residents of Nelson – depending on which report you read – took to the streets on March 12 to protest plans for the ski resort.

The most vocal group in opposition to the project is the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society, which is urging more people to voice their opposition to the project.

"There is a huge coalition of people opposed to it, it’s not a popular issue here," said Kat Hartwig, a representative of the JCCS and the East Kootenays Environmental Society.

"The proponents are quick to point out that Jumbo will offer the best skiing in Western Canada, when studies show that the glaciers will be all but gone in 30 years. Our position is that it’s not about skiing, it’s not about tourism, it’s about real estate development."

The size of the resort is out of scale for the area, says Hartwig, and the plan does little to mitigate the issues that will impact wildlife. "For the government this is the pie in the sky, a new cash cow, but people in the community don’t want it.

"I live in Invermere and there are 12 resorts within a three hour drive of where I live, and none of them are operating at capacity right now. The communities are making the switch to tourism from resource industries, but we don’t have the infrastructure for that. The local hospital has had cutbacks and can barely handle the injuries that are coming from Panorama (Mountain Resort). We don’t have the policing, we don’t have the services for this."

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