Appeal court rules against Ktunaxa in Jumbo dispute

The British Columbia Court of Appeal found that the province’s approval did not violate the Ktunaxa’s Charter right to freedom of religion.

The Ktunaxa Nation said it was disappointed with the Aug. 6 ruling by the British Columbia Court of Appeal that found the province’s approval of a Master Development Agreement in the Jumbo, or Qat’muk, area did not violate the Ktunaxa’s Charter right to freedom of religion.

The ruling also found that the province’s consultation with the Ktunaxa regarding their constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights was reasonable.

Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair said they are “deeply disappointed” with the decision.

“We are working closely with our legal team to analyze this ruling and other developments to determine what our next steps may be.”

In the ruling, Justice Goepel concluded that the decision of the Minister to approve the Master Development Agreement did not violate the Ktunaxa’s freedom of religion guaranteed under section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Goepel said the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations did not breach his duty to consult and accommodate under s. 35.

“I would dismiss the appeal,” Goepel wrote.

Glacier Resorts Ltd began the process to obtain permission to build a year-round ski resort on Crown land in the Jumbo Valley  24 years ago. On March 20, 2012, Glacier cleared the final administrative hurdle when the Minister of Forests, Lands and National Resource Operations approved a Master Development Agreement with Glacier.

The Ktunaxa Nation Council asserted that the minister, in approving the agreement, violated their freedom of religion and breached his duty to consult and accommodate a host of asserted Aboriginal rights under s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

The Ktunaxa Nation said it would release an official response to the ruling  this week.