Jumbo building foundations in avalanche risk zones: report

Majority of Jumbo Glacier Resort's Service Building foundation is in a high risk zone, report determines

  • Apr. 20, 2015 5:00 a.m.

Nicole Trigg/Columbia Valley Pioneer

An assessment of the potential avalanche risk from two avalanche paths in Jumbo Valley has determined that the majority of Jumbo Glacier Resort’s Service Building foundation is in a high risk zone.

“Dense flow impacts were observed with 10 to 15 metres of the building site,” states the report prepared by Dynamic Avalanche Consulting Inc. dated March 19th.

In the report, high risk is indicated by the term “Red Zone” while moderate risk is labelled “Blue Zone” and low risk labelled “White Zone.”

The remainder of the Service Building site is located in the Blue Zone. The resort’s Day Lodge foundation is mostly within the Blue Zone with a small portion in the White Zone.

“Dense flow avalanche impacts were observed 80 metres from the Day Lodge, but there was no evidence to suggest that dense flow can reach the Day Lodge,” the report explains.

Both concrete foundations were poured last fall just before the resort’s Environmental Certificate came up for renewal. A decision by the BC Minister of Environment Mary Polak on whether or not Jumbo Glacier Resort achieved enough of a “substantial start” to renew the Environmental Certificate has been pending while an engineering avalanche risk evaluation has been underway.

Based on the above assessments, the report recommends that a building constructed on the Service Building foundation “not be used or routinely accessed during the winter season.”

Further recommendations include doors and windows facing away from avalanche flow direction and structural reinforcement that can withstand the impact of an avalanche.

With respect to the Day Lodge site, its use is also subject to recommendations, namely a building with structural reinforcement for impact pressures (less than what’s recommended for the Service Building), explosive control with remote fixed exploders to reduce avalanche hazard, and an evacuation plan to reduce potential residual avalanche risk to workers and the public “within and outside the building.”

The report goes on to say that “protection of workers and the public in and around the Day Lodge will require implementation of an avalanche safety plan, which will include explosive avalanche control and an evacuation plan implemented by trained, experienced and licensed avalanche technicians.”

Other Canadian resorts are located in potential avalanche areas, including Sunshine Village’s day lodge and parking area in Banff, Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson and Mount Norquay in Banff.

The Jumbo Glacier Resort council meeting scheduled for this week has been cancelled.