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Province tweaking Jumbo voting rights at RDEK table

According to Minister Peter Fassbender, government is considering removing a 2017 deadline that would allow Jumbo RDEK voting rights.
The RDEK received clarification on how the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality can get a voting seat at the board table on Friday.

The provincial government is considering removing a deadline set for January 1, 2017, that would have allowed the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality a seat at the Regional District board table.

According to a letter written by Peter Fassbender, the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, the ministry is looking at removing the timeline reference from a legal document called a Letters Patent.

However, JGMRM could still get a seat at the RDEK board table the year after the taxable value of the land surpasses $30 million.

"At that point, the owners of improvements at JGMRM would be contributing to regional services through taxation to a similar degree as small municipalities elsewhere, and sufficient investment in infrastructure would be a reliable predictor of the arrival of electors," reads Fassbender's letter.

Any decision to amend the Letters Patent terms must come from the Liberal government Cabinet.

While the letter was well received by Invermere Gerry Taft, a vocal opponent of JGMRM, he felt it didn't go far enough, and put forward a motion to send another letter asking the provincial government for a sunset clause on the issue — a motion that was ultimately defeated.

"How long do you leave something moving if you've removed any time commitments on a seat at this table?" said Taft. "You've removed any time commitments on a seat at this table, you've said they're not going to get a vote until they have $30 million of assessed value.

"So is there a limit? When does that happen? Or is there a point in time where you just leave it for 20 years?"

Taft also took issue with the $30 million assessed value requirement.

"From a philosophical point of view, I don't agree that assessment should get you a vote at the table. For $30 million of assessment, I think Teck Coal could probably have a lot of seats at this table, or whatever example you want to use, so I don't think tax assessment alone should mean anybody, entity, person, community, should have a seat at the table."

The JGMRM was incorporated in 2012 by a provincial Order In Council through the Letters Patent document, with provisions that the municipality would be given a seat at the RDEK table in January 2017, or the year after the taxable value of the land surpasses $30 million.

The issue of building an all-year ski resort on Jumbo Glacier has been ongoing for more than 20 years.

Currently, the project is at a standstill after being ruled ‘not substantially started’ by the Ministry of Environment last June, which resulted in a Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC) expiring. Should the proponents—Glacier Resorts Ltd.—wish to continue, they must go obtain a new EAC.

In addition to the decision from the provincial government, the Ktunaxa Nation Council are taking the provincial government to the Supreme Court of Canada over a decision to approve a Master Development Plan in March 2012.

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the province had adequately consulted with the Ktunaxa Nation in  and an Appeal Court ruling upheld that decision in August 2015.

Now, the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear the Ktunaxa’s case, which centres on a challenge to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which argues that the approval of the Jumbo’s master development plan is a violation of their Charter right to freedom of religion. According to Ktunaxa religious beliefs, the region around Jumbo—known as Qat’muk—holds significant spiritual meaning as that’s where the Grizzly Bear Spirit born, goes to heal itself, and returns to the spirit world.

For Ktunaxa, Grizzly Bear Spirit is a unique and indispensable source of collective as well as individual guidance, strength, and protection, and a necessary part of many Ktunaxa spiritual practices and beliefs.

The Supreme Court will hear the case sometime in 2017.

Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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