Jumbo issue resurfaces at RDEK meeting

Province amends legal document to prevent Jumbo representation at RDEK board in 2017, however, a loophole remains.

The ongoing saga of a proposed ski resort at the Jumbo Glacier surfaced on Friday at a regional district meeting in Cranbrook.

While the Ktunaxa Nation argued their case against the resort — which is situated on spiritually sensitive land — in the Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday on the grounds of religious freedom, the RDEK received a notice from the province that amended the Jumbo municipality’s conditions for voting representation on the regional government board.

Earlier in the summer, Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft led the charge to have a legal document called Letters Patent amended to prevent the Jumbo municipality from having a vote at the RDEK board by January 1, 2017.

Jumbo has a government-appointed mayor and council, but there are currently no residents or municipal infrastructure. Taft made the request to Peter Fassbender, the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, responded in a letter in August that any amendments to the Letters Patent must be made by Cabinet.

That decision appears to have been made, however, a clause still exists to allow the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality [JGMRM] to have representation, according to a document released by the RDEK.

“The [JGMRM] municipal director or alternate director may not exercise his or her right and obligation to vote at the board of the regional district until January 1 of the year following the year that the net taxable value of the land and improvements to the municipality on the revised assessment roll as at April 30 for the year totals more than $30,000,000.”

Taft voiced his support for the amendment, but lamented the $30 million clause that potentially leaves the door open for JGMRM representation at the RDEK in the future.

“I guess the [letter] would explain why we’re not going to have a rep from the village of Jumbo sitting at our table next month, in that sense, I’m appreciative,” said Taft.

“But I still think that A) it’s a little wacky that there’s a municipality with no residents, no project, it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere, and B) that the threshold for a vote at this board based on assessment still seems a little crazy.

“$30 million — if that’s what it costs to get a vote at this table, then I think the coal mines would probably fill up this room pretty easily, so I think that should give some thought on what price we put on democracy.”

While the Ktunaxa argue the construction of a resort in on Jumbo Glacier in a spiritually sensitive area known as Qat’muk violates their Charter right to freedom of religion, the project has all but died after the provincial government allowed an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC) to expire in the spring.

Without the EAC and the approval of the provincial government, the proponents can’t begin any construction.