It was a festive mood as almost 200 people showed up in front of Nelson’s City Hall on Sunday night to voice opposition over the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.
“Welcome to this celebration of Jumbo wild,” said K. Linda Kivi, adorned in a colouorful toque and calling herself the Jumbo Jester.
Kivi started the evening of speeches and music by firing up the crowd with the question: “How do we like our Jumbo?” To which the crowd screamed back: “Wild!” It would be a common chant during the hour-long event.
The event was organized by the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild and the candlelight rally was called “Light the way for Jumbo Wild.”
Last week the Liberal government approved the master development agreement for the controversial mega-resort located 57 kilometres west of Invermere in the Purcell Mountains. The agreement allows the proponents to — 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. The year-round resort plan has been in the works for more than 20 years and is at full build out is expected to bring 700,000 people to the area.
Kivi told the crowd Sunday that “it’s not, not, not, not, not a done deal.”
“There’s so much more we can do because we have love on our side,” she said to appreciate applause.
The first speaker of the evening was Marilyn James of the Sinixt First Nation. James provided an offering of tobacco to begin her address and then spoke about the desire of the Sinixt to protect the land she said still belongs to the First Nation.
“It is time we stopped the rape of this land,” James said.
James then proceeded to speak about the flora and fauna in the area, which she said will be destroyed with the resort.
“If we do not respect them [flora and fauna], we will pay the ultimate price,” she said. “You cannot drink a dollar bill.”
James ended her time at the microphone with a message to the French bankers who are looking to bankroll the $900 million proposal.
“Go put your money someplace else because it’s not welcome here,” she said.
Local Raging Grannies then took the stage to lead the crowd through a sing-along.
After the musical interlude, Kivi introduced Kim Kratky of the Kootenay Mountaineering Club. Kratky told of his experience in the “spiritual” part of the part of the province that makes up the Jumbo Valley.
He also added that from the business side of the project “it just doesn’t compute” and is “too risky.” Kratky said the ski industry is not a growing business and wondered about the feasibility of a mega-resort at this time. He told the crowd of his concern that the public will be asked to pick up the tab for road maintenance, hauling out garbage and providing other services.
After Kratky finished with a huge round of applause, Kivi told the crowd that in the coming months opponents will need to become creative. They need to “take it out into the world” through initiatives like a film that is being planned in French with hopes of showing it in Europe. Kivi also told the crowd that upcoming events will include a “peace camp” on the roads leading to the territory in question, a hike-a-thon and whatever else locals can dream up.
David Reid from the West Kootenay EcoSociety was one of the last speakers of the evening. He told the group that the tone of the next few months needs to be positive.
“We don’t win with anger and meanness,” he said.
Reid encouraged the community to gather as much information about the project in order to put forward an educated opposition.
“It’s not time for despair, it’s not time for sadness,” Reid said. “It’s a time to come together and show solidarity.”