Glacier Resorts Ltd. believes environment minister Mary Polak decided against its Jumbo Glacier project last June because she is friends with Kathryn Teneese, a prominent opponent of the project. Teneese works for the Ktunaxa Nation Council.
Glacier Resorts filed a petition, attached below, in BC Supreme Court this week asking for a judicial review of Polak’s decision, citing the possible friendship bias and other reasons.
In June, Polak declared that the construction of the resort had not been substantially started on October 12, 2014. That date represented a deadline dictated by provincial legislation: if a proposed project is not substantially started by five years after a renewed environmental certificate is issued, it must be cancelled. That’s what Polak decided about Jumbo.
The court filing also states that the delay in getting started on construction was the government’s fault, not the company’s, for a number of reasons including:
• The government was slow in granting the Master Development Agreement, not producing this crucial document until March, 2012, eight years after the granting of the environmental certificate;
• The government did not create the mountain resort municipality until November 2012, after which the new municipality had to create land use processes, a community plan, and zoning bylaws, leaving little time for construction before the October 12, 2014 deadline;
• The result of those delays was that there were only two construction seasons (the summers 2013 and 2014) available to the company before the October 12, 2014 deadline. The court filing states that the elevation, location, and terrain at the project site mean that construction season amounts to only about 8 weeks per year;
• Throughout the past few years, there has been clear understanding and expectations between the government and the company about construction timelines and requirements, and Polak’s decision flies in the face of those.
The petition to the court asks for an order that Polak‘s decision to be set aside, a declaration that the project was actually substantially started on October 12, 2014, and a declaration that the government must issue a new environmental certificate to the company.
Neither the Ministry of the Environment nor Kathryn Teneese were available for comment on this story.