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Jumbo protesters not leaving without guarantees

Unexpected tenure transfer gives resort developer the right to place lift on Farnham Glacier



It’s been almost a month since Jumbo Wild supporters blockaded the entrance to the Farnham Creek road to stop Glacier Resorts Ltd. from building a road and portable platter lift in the Jumbo watershed of the East Kootenays. And without a guarantee from the province and developer the protesters say they’re not going anywhere.

“We’re going to keep the blockade up until we get commitments from the province and the proponent that no further road building or construction will take place this year, or until the weather makes it so (construction) is not an option any more,” said Dave Quinn of Wildsight, which is coordinating the Jumbo Wild campaign to prevent the development of a four-season resort by Glacier Resorts. Jumbo is located west of Invermere in the same drainage as Panorama Mountain Resort.

The conflict was not over Glacier’s resort proposal, which passed the provincial Master Plan process last year despite objections by local residents and governments. The blockade is the result of a tenure to operate a ski training facility on Farnham Glacier that was originally awarded to the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) and recently transferred to Glacier Resorts. Glacier Resorts built an 800-metre road to the Farnham Glacier, and was preparing to install a portable platter lift when Wildsight learned about the development and rallied the public and local First Nations to create a blockade.

Work stopped immediately, but Quinn says they will maintain the blockade until they are assured that the work will not continue through the winter. The concern, says Quinn, was that the province awarded the tenure without consulting the public, existing tenure holders, First Nations, local governments or other agencies. The tenure area also increased from 240 hectares to 1,400 hectares.

The government maintains that it did not have to consult with stakeholders as it was only a transfer of licences, from CODA to Glacier Resorts, and because the portable platter is consistent with the prescribed use of the area for skiing. However, given the controversy over the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort and opposition of First Nations to the development, Quinn says the province was obligated to at least inform the public about the changes.

“Nobody knew what was going on until the proponent brought in earth moving equipment and started to build a road to the glacier,” said Quinn. “The proponent said it had to do with CODA and their plans to run a training camp, but we contacted CODA and they said it was not the case. There was no public consultation, no First Nations consultation, no other stakeholder consultation with other tenure holders that have an interest in the area, including a heli-ski company and guide company, and no body of government was notified.