What’s next in the Jumbo saga? As reported in yesterday’s Townsman, UBCM delegates passed a resolution stating they were not in favour of the provincial government funding municipalities with no population. The resolution was introduced by Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft and aimed at the Jumbo Resort Municipality.
While many wait for a government reaction to that, they are also waiting for October 12, 2014 to see what the Environmental Assessment Office will say about Jumbo’s certificate of compliance.
The certificate expires on October 12 if a substantial start on project construction has not begun. The certificate (with many conditions) was first issued in 2004, and renewed for a further five years in 2009.
“October 12 is the deadline,” said Robyn Duncan of Wildsight, one of the groups opposed to the development. “It will be 10 years since the permit was first granted. It can only be renewed once and it has been. Unless the government amends its legislation, it cannot be renewed again.”
The Environmental Assessment Office is currently conducting an audit to see if the proponent is in compliance.
“We strongly believe they are not in compliance,” Duncan said.
At issue will be what a substantial start means.
Duncan says as far as she knows, the only permanent construction is a bridge.
“There’s no legal definition of substantial start, although the Taku First Nation was successful in half their recent court challenge.”
That B.C. Supreme Court judgment stated that in the case of an environmental certificate, “substantially started” means permanent physical construction, not temporary structures, permits applied for, or money spent.”
“The decision also stated that it was important whether the money for any permanent construction came from the proponent,” Duncan says. “The only permanent construction we’ve seen is a bridge and it was not paid for by the proponent. It was paid for by the municipality.”
Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald also said that he felt there was ample proof that the proponent hadn’t lived up to the terms of the 10-year certificate.
“I was up in the area last week,” Macdonald said. “There is a new bridge. But if they are trying to claim they have made a substantial start, I don’t think so.”
Duncan says Wildsight is hoping for a timeline on the EAO decision.
“For everybody’s sake, a quicker decision would be better,” she said.
Should the EAO decide that the terms of the certificate were met, Duncan says Wildsight is not ruling out a court challenge along with other groups in the anti-Jumbo coalition.
“That is something we are exploring within the larger coalition,” she said. “But until we know what will happen on October 12, there is no decision on that.”