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“We have a big problem with the process. This was a new backcountry tenure with no public consultation… all of the decisions were made behind closed doors.”
Quinn says the government’s decision to expand and transfer the tenure is also bad news for their campaign to prevent the development of the resort, which still has to go through consultation with First Nations before the proponents can apply for a Master Development Plan for the area. If nothing else he says it shows that the province still favours the creation of a ski hill in the Jumbo drainage, ignoring the local opposition.
But Peter Walters, the assistant deputy minister for tourism operations at the Ministry for Tourism, Culture and the Arts, says the tenure was awarded properly and that Glacier Resorts has respected the blockade despite the fact that the development in the area was consistent with their tenure.
“Glacier Resorts respected the concerns of the protesters and withdrew from the next stop of the project, which was installing a temporary, portable platter tow,” he said. “It’s also safe to say that it was a peaceful protest.”
Glacier Resorts has not applied for an injunction that would remove the blockade, and Walters does not know whether any attempts will be made to continue the work in the autumn.
“The purpose of the tenure allows alpine skiing, and includes a road allowance and for the facilities and improvements necessary. The basic intent of that tenure is very clear, it’s about alpine ski training and effectively sets Farnham Glacier into two areas for training. One of the areas is what CODA has historically used, using a snowcat to move skiers up the glacier, and this other additional area is for folks that are not served by CODA. I think the proponents would suggest that a portable platter would have less impact that running snowcats, but it’s probably arguable either way.”
The second area, which expands the tenure area more than six-fold, will be offered to ski clubs, provincial teams, and other ski and snowboard programs not currently served by CODA. It would be open to Canadian groups only.
“Those proposed uses are entirely consistent with what went through the public process before, and the decision was made to proceed with a replacement licence,” said Walters. “If the use were inconsistent I would assume there would be a public process.”
As for what happens next, Walters says that will be up to the tenure holder but that talks will likely take place over the winter between stakeholders that may or may not involve the province.