Jumbo gets special status

After 22 years, proposed resort becomes a municipality

The Jumbo Glacier Resort will be incorporated on February 19, 2013, following 22 years of debate.

Minister for Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett announced Tuesday morning that the province had created a letters patent for the new resort on Monday, November 19.

Greg Deck, Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander will form the appointed council at the new resort municipality. Deck, the former mayor of Radium from its incorporation in 1990 to his retirement in 2008, will become the mayor of the new municipality.

“The role of the council will be the same as any other elected council in the province,” Bennett said.

Phil Taylor will be the interim corporate officer, ensuring that the municipality is operational by its incorporation date of Feb. 19, 2013.

Bennett called the new resort a “game changer” for tourism in the province and announced $200,000 in initial start-up funding plus $60,000 to hire a temporary chief administrative officer.

“To help get Jumbo Glacier Resort municipality underway the ministry is providing $200,000 in 2013 to assist with the set up and organization of the local government,” Bennett said. “It is anticipated that this funding will help establish an office, fund the chief administrative officer and help with other costs associated with the set up.”

Bennett said the proponent will be primarily responsible for the municipality’s start-up costs. Bennett later clarified and said the money being contributed by his ministry will go to cover legal and administrative costs of setting up such a municipality.

“The province always invests in the creation of a municipality,” he said. “This is not unusual. This is what the province always does.”

After the $200,000 in funding is used up by the new council, Bennett said the province would look at the project but did not commit anymore funding.

“We would have to assess the situation when we get to the end of 2013,” he said.

Bennett said the province is willing to invest a small sum of $200,000 into a project that could eventually return millions to a region that hasn’t been doing well economically in the past few years.

He said the order in council had been signed on November 19 ahead of the public announcement after the province determined a resort municipality would be the best form of governance for the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.

Bennett cited previous municipalities created in the same way such as Whistler, Tumbler Ridge and most recently Sun Peaks.

“The mountain resort sets up a civic framework under which development can occur in a responsible fashion and in accordance with the terms of the master development agreement which was signed earlier this year,” he said.

Bennett said the council that has been appointed was selected out of East Kootenay people and the search began three months ago under former Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong.

The mayor and council terms will be complete on November 30, 2014 and elections are expected to occur when there is a stable population. That date was chosen to put the Jumbo Resort Municipality in line with municipal elections around the province. Bennett did not say what the population needs to be in order for elections to be held.

Bennett also could not say what form the initial meetings would take, whether they would be open to the public or not or where they would take place. The next step is to incorporate the municipality, but there is plenty of work to be done before February 19, 2013.

For the proponent, Glacier Mountain Resorts, Ltd., Bennett said they will now begin work with the Environmental Assessment office to fulfil the conditions of the environmental assessment certificate and with the Ministry of Environment on sewage collection. They will also be in contact with the Regional District of East Kootenay on solid waste removal.

As for access roads, Bennett said the proponent will work with the Ministry of Transportation to update existing access roads.

NDP candidate for Kootenay East Norma Blissett said the resort municipality was established using a flawed piece of legislation and she has concerns about the lack of timeframe for the appointed council.

“I think it’s an antagonistic move towards the residents of this valley,” she said.

Blissett said the government should not be funding a municipality with taxpayer’s money when there are no taxpayers in the municipality.

“Here we have a government providing taxpayer’s money to a development that most taxpayers are opposed to,” Blissett said.

She’s concerned the lack of framework to have meetings in public heading into the incorporation is against how the public believes government should operate.

“Here we are talking about a behind-closed-door meeting – it’s not how government should function,” she said. “I think the voters will speak to that next May.

“This is being pushed forward in advance of the election deliberately.”

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