Nelson council wants the Union of BC Municipalities to seek intervenor status for the BC supreme court judicial review of how Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality was created.
UBCM passed a resolution last fall stating they do not support the concept of an un-elected body making land-use decisions for an area with no population. But the organization has a policy not to get involved in legal matters until the appeal process.
At a meeting Monday, Nelson council unanimously supported a motion to write a letter encouraging the UBCM to make an exemption for this case. A handful of other municipalities, including Invermere and New Denver, have already passed similar resolutions.
Councillors were careful to note that the legal matter concerns how the resort municipality was created — and is not about debating whether or not a the resort should be developed in the Jumbo Valley.
“This is about democratic process. Whether or not we as individuals want to keep Jumbo wild is beside the point,” Councillor Deb Kozak said.
To create the Jumbo resort municipality, the province made significant changes to the Local Government Act, including removing a requirement that a resort municipality have residents and that the residents support the creation of the municipality. Those changes were made without consultation with the UBCM.
Kozak compared the situation to how the province introduced the HST without consultation.
“I think it’s important for local governments to stand up and say this isn’t right,” Kozak said.
If the UBCM can be persuaded to become an intervener in the case, it would allow the organization to submit its own evidence in the case between the West Kootenay EcoSociety and the province.
EcoSociety executive director David Reid said that could help their case.
“We’re a public interest group, while they represent the interests of municipalities. They may have their own information about how it affects municipalities,” Reid said, noting that the UBCM has waived its policy and become involved in legal proceedings in the past.
The EcoSociety, with the help of West Coast Environmental Law, is alleging that various provincial statutes were violated in the formation of the Jumbo resort municipality. The province had until April 25 to respond.
Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality was incorporated in November. Its appointed mayor and council held their first meeting in February. The report municipality is located 55 km west of Invermere and is slated for the development of a massive year-round ski resort with 23 ski lifts, 5,500 bed-units and a 104-hectare resort base area.
The EcoSociety and other environmental groups have been fighting the development for more than two decades.