Ktunaxa launch court challenge to Jumbo decision

Ktuaxa Nation seeks judicial review of B.C. Govt's March decision to approve Jumbo Glacier Resort master development agreement

  • Jul. 25, 2012 10:00 a.m.

By Annalee Grant, Cranbrook Daily Townsman staff

The Ktunaxa Nation has announced they will seek a judicial review of the B.C. Government’s March decision to approve the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort’s master development agreement.

The nation refers to the land where the controversial resort would sit as Qat’muk, home of the Grizzly bear spirit. The nation said the area is significant to their cultural beliefs and the environment.

Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation chair, said the judicial review will send a strong message to the resort’s proponents that the fight is not over.

“It’s a demonstration to anybody that we’re mounting a challenge to the decision that was made,” she said. “I don’t think it says anything different to them than we’ve been saying all along.”

Bill Bennett, MLA for Kootenay East, said the issue is now in the hands of the court.

“It’s up to the courts now to determine whether the 22 years of process was enough or not,” he said.

Teneese said the nation is not happy with the decision made by the province in March to sign the master development agreement for the resort.

Since then, the Ktunaxa have been looking at ways to mount a challenge to the decision.

“This is one of the options,” Teneese said. “It was a decision that was formally adopted by our executive earlier this month.”

According to the B.C. Ministry of Justice, a judicial review asks the B.C. Supreme Court to determine whether the B.C. Government had the authority needed to make the decision it did. It is not an appeal of the decision.

Now, the Ktunaxa will submit their application for judicial review. A determination will be made whether the review will go ahead or not, and if so, a formal hearing will be scheduled. There, the Ktunaxa will get a chance to make their arguments.

The Supreme Court can agree with the Ktunaxa, side with the government decision or a mix of both, Teneese said.

If it goes ahead as planned, Jumbo Glacier Resort would be the only glacier-based year-round ski resort in North America, roughly the size of Silver Star resort near Vernon and about one tenth the size of Whistler. The master development plan approved by the government allows for phased development of 6,250 beds, up to 23 ski lifts and a 3,000 metre-high gondola overlooking a glacier-fed lake.

With the approval of the master development agreement in March, the proponents, Glacier Resorts Limited, will have to follow through on 195 commitments under a Environmental Assessment Act review (from 2005), and there will be further permits to be applied for.

In June, the Regional District of East Kootenay upheld its August 2009 decision to ask the province to create a mountain resort municipality in the Jumbo Valley.