The column on Jumbo Glacier Resort by MLA Michelle Mungall published on March 1 (“A town without a home”) is full of half-truths and exaggerations. Allow me to provide some facts.
Use of a municipal structure by the province to facilitate a large, important project is not unusual in BC. Tumbler Ridge for example was created before people lived there to mine the coal. Ditto for communities like Hudson’s Hope, Logan Lake and Elkford. The municipal structure lends itself to effective land use decision-making, particularly in this case where development of the resort must be in strict accordance with the Master Development Agreement and the Environmental Certificate.
MLA Mungall is also wrong that public tax dollars will be used to pay for resort infrastructure. All infrastructure at the resort municipality will be paid for by the developer.
As for democratic principles, MLA Mungall has chosen to ignore that the NDP, when last in government, actually encouraged the resort development. Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark are both on the record enthusiastically supporting Jumbo Glacier Resort. Furthermore, the Kootenay Boundary Land Use Plan formally identifies the Jumbo Valley for resort development. This land use planning process was completed by NDP governments.
MLA Mungall also failed to mention that the Regional District of East Kootenay formally resolved to ask the province to use a Mountain Resort Municipality for this project. While it is true they preferred Jumbo Glacier Resort municipality not have a seat on the Regional District of East Kootenay board, as did I, the legislation did not allow for that. The next best thing was done. Letters patent state the new municipality does not have a vote until 2017. Furthermore, the mayor of the new municipality offered to attend Regional District of East Kootenay meetings only when invited. His offer was made before the board even discussed the matter.
In summary, use of a municipal structure for large, geographically isolated projects is not at all unusual; the NDP is very much on the record supporting the project; one of two First Nations, the Shuswap, supports the project; the project has an environmental certificate complete with 200 conditions on how the resort must be developed; and the proponent has been through 22 years of exhaustive process with Socred, NDP and BC Liberal governments, including much public consultation.
Only the NDP would suggest that after 22 years of demanding and expensive government process, it is “democratic” for the Crown to thumb its nose at a proponent who has met every single requirement of the province’s exhaustive permitting process for new resorts. I pity the business community in this province if the NDP are elected as government.
MLA, Kootenay East