Radium, Jumbo to buddy up

Key Radium staff will share duties with new resort municipality

  • Feb. 25, 2013 9:00 a.m.

Greg Amos/Columbia Valley Pioneer

Key staff members at the Village of Radium Hot Springs will soon be filling double roles by also working for the new Jumbo Glacier mountain resort municipality.

Against a backdrop of more than 100 anti-Jumbo protesters from across the Kootenays chanting outside Radium’s village offices, the municipality’s inaugural meeting on Tuesday, February 19th solidified severalaspects of how Jumbo Glacier will work.

All meetings will be held at the Radium office on the third Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m., a time that’s convenient for both Radium staff and Jumbo’s council, consisting of Mayor Greg Deck and councillors Nancy Hugunin and Steve Ostrander. All three were sworn in by Radium chief administrative officer Mark Read to commence the meeting.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” he wryly asked Mr. Ostrander, as protesters began pounding on the building’s doors and windows in time with a slogan of “Save democracy”.

At that point, Columbia Valley RCMP Staff Sergeant Marko Shehovac, who was in the room, called for backup, as protest organizer Bob Campsall went outside to calm down the crowd. Two additional police cars arrived, though no arrests were made.

The new municipality encompasses more than 6,000 hectares in the Jumbo Mountain area located 55 kilometres west of Invermere, where a world-class ski resort is slated to be built on a 104-hectare resort base. The development would include 5,500 bed units, and has faced intense opposition in the region over the 22-year history of the proposed project. The resort would offer year-round glacier skiing at elevations as high as 3,400 metres via 23 ski lifts.

The decision to establish a new municipality in the area, which as yet has no buildings and no population, was made by the province last November.

To keep costs down, the council will earn lower-than-average remuneration. Mayor Greg Deck will be paid $7,500 for each full year, while the two councillors will earn just $5,000 per year.

“You guys are on the bottom of the barrel as far as being paid,” noted temporary administrator Phil Taylor, who will be replaced by Mr. Read within months.

“Our constituent load is going to be relatively light,” quipped Mr. Deck in response.

Elderly Shuswap Band chief Paul Sam opened the council meeting with a prayer, and remarked he had never seen a grizzly bear in the Jumbo area in his life.

“When you say Jumbo Wild, it’s fine, but what has wild ever done for us?” he said. “They’re protesting everything, but we’ve got our own heart and soul to tell us what to do. I’m glad that you people chose the right way to go.”

About two dozen protesters were brought to Radium by Nelson’s West Kootenay EcoSociety, who on Monday, February 18th filed an application for a judicial review of the Jumbo municipality on constitutional grounds.

Radium will earn a fee for service in exchange for having their staff members double as the administrator, chief financial officer and corporate officer for Jumbo.

Kootenay Savings Credit Union will be the Jumbo municipality’s official banker, while Vancouver law firm Murdy & McAllister — one of the two B.C. law firms that carry out most of the legal representation for local governments — will advise the new community on legal matters. The Municipal Insurance Association of B.C. will insure the municipality, and offer risk management training to help it avoid claims.

The key shared staff positions between Jumbo and Radium will be that of chief administrative officer, chief financial officer and corporate officer.