Opponents to the Jumbo Glacier Resort proposal held a weekend rally in Kaslo in hopes of sending a direct message to Minister of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
An estimated crowd of 300 showed up to Kaslo’s Vimy Park for an event timed to coincide with the BC Community Forest Association’s annual general meeting that was being held in the Kootenay Lake community. Organizers of the event invited the minister or a representative to speak on Saturday evening.
“Neither Minister Steve Thompson nor his deputy minister were willing to face us,” ” said K.Linda Kivi from the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild. “They seem to not understand the concept of public accountability.”
The master development agreement for the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort was approved the by the provincial Liberals in March. The agreement lays out the terms and conditions under which the resort can be developed and allows proponents Glacier Resorts Ltd. to move forward with phased development of 6,250 beds, up to 23 ski lifts and a 3,000 metre-high gondola in the Jumbo Valley west of Invermere and northeast of Kaslo.
“The government wants us to think support for the resort is split, and this is hardly the case,” said Gary Diers, Argenta resident and one of the event organizers. “Overwhelming opposition has remained strong for the past 20 years.”
The West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild has joined with other organizations such as the Kootenay Mountaineering Club, the West Kootenay EcoSociety and the Valhalla Wilderness Society to stop the development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort.
“The 300 people who rallied at Vimy Park took the opportunity to express their discontent to Compagnie des Alpes, the French investors who are being courted by Jumbo Glacier Resort,” said Kivi.
Among the messages sent to Compagnie des Alpes was one from a veteran which read, “I’m writing from Vimy Park, named to honour the war dead who gave their lives to protect France from invasion. Please do not repay us by invading our homeland.”
This veteran’s postcard was one of 2,000 that have been sent to the French company during the past month.
Diers told the crowd that bad decisions are mounting.
“Now we understand that the government wants to make Jumbo a resort municipality,” he said. “This means basically that a town will exist with 5,000 beds and no residents and that a mayor and council will be appointed. So now we have not only an assault on the environment and our wallets, but on democracy as well. The government will have to change its own laws to do this.”
Western Canada Wilderness Committee national campaigns co-ordinator Joe Foy also spoke at the event. He told the crowd that the destruction of a place like Jumbo is a provincial, national and international issue.