The West Kootenay EcoSociety has lost its challenge of the creation of Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality.
BC Supreme Court Justice Grace Choi ruled today that the municipality’s creation was reasonable and dismissed the society’s application for a judicial review.
The case was heard in Vancouver in July. The EcoSociety argued the government’s formation of a municipality with no residents was wrong because such a municipality can only be created where there is a reasonable expectation that it will have an electorate and elections within four years.
However, the province argued the Local Government Act places no such restrictions on the minister’s discretion and that the only prerequisite is that a development agreement must be in place.
Choi agreed: “I conclude the minster’s decision [was] reasonable and that the minister’s discretion is not limited by election timelines in the way the society claims … In my view, while much of the Local Government Act is intended to further the pillars of community and democracy, [it] also intends to facilitate ski resort development.
“In light of what in my view is an unambiguous legislative scheme, reading in a requirement for elections or an electorate within four years would directly contradict the intention of the legislature.”
“We are disappointed,” said Ecosociety executive director David Reid.”While we understand the judge’s ruling, we disagree with it. Cities must have citizens, and town councils must be elected by someone. The province should not be allowed to create a municipality in order to overcome the opposition of local people and their elected representatives.
“The judge took a narrow approach to the legal question. She did not take into consideration the purpose of the Local Government Act which is to serve communities.”
Construction of the resort has been on hold following a decision by the environment minister in June that the project had not been substantially started by the expiry of its environmental assessment certificate.
Glacier Resorts Ltd. has since said they plan to submit a scaled-down proposal that would not be subject to the same review process.
“We will participate in that regulatory process,” Reid said, “to make sure all the regulations are applied stringently.”