One of the last acts by delegates at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler last week was aimed squarely at the Jumbo Resort Municipality.
In a unanimous vote, municipalities passed a motion opposing provincial funding of towns without a population.
The Jumbo Glacier Mountain resort municipality was created on February 19, 2013 and a mayor and two councillors appointed.
Invermere mayor Gerry Taft put forward the motion in Whistler.
“Local governments across BC struggle to provide services to our residents and the provincial government constantly says there is no money,” Taft said. “Not only is the concept of a town with no residents and an appointed council ridiculous, but the idea that this fake town will get over $1 million in Provincial funding over the next five years is disgusting.”
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald, whose riding Jumbo is in, applauded the resolution.
“It sends a strong message to the government just how ridiculous the creation of the Jumbo resort municipality was,” Macdonald said. “It’s funded like a normal municipality. When Kimberley gets the gas tax, so does Jumbo. Kimberley can apply for grants. So can Jumbo. Jumbo is an artificial creation.
“Local governments are looking at a situation where a municipality is set up without people. It’s frankly ridiculous. They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money.
“Where else but BC would local governments have to say something so incredible obvious?”
However unanimous the resolution was, will it carry any weight with the provincial government? That remains to be seen, Macdonald says.
“It sends a strong message and it should carry weight, but a lot of what’s happened around Jumbo has been dismissive of ordinary democratic principles.”
BC Liberal Doug Clovechok, who will be the Columbia River-Revelstoke candidate for that party in the next provincial election, however, defended the municipality’s creation. “I believe that over the years the government has put these types municipalities in place for a specific purpose,” he said. “That is to protect BC resources by overseeing projects that are attached to strict regulations and conditions. It is through this process that proponents are held to the highest account possible.
“Projects of this kind and governed by the process in question, have proven to be successful time and time again bringing economic prosperity to the regions they are located in. New jobs and opportunities in areas that are struggling economically is something that should be embraced and celebrated.”
In 2012, the Local Government Act was amended to create the Jumbo municipality, a move that was also opposed by UBCM. In its opposition, UBCM asked the provincial government to consider a governance structure for Jumbo that included elected representatives responsible for land-use decisions and a permanent population of 200.
At the same time, UBCM also stated its opposition to an unelected body making land-use decisions for an area with no population.
— Carolyn Grant and Trevor Crawley, Cranbrook Daily Townsman