VANCOUVER BC – The Court of Appeal British Columbia today unanimously dismissed an application by the Ktunaxa Nation Council to overturn an earlier Supreme Court decision that upheld the Master Development Agreement (MDA) between Glacier Resorts Ltd. and the Province for the development of Jumbo Glacier Resort, a year round glacier sightseeing and skiing resort located in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia.
According to the unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal, “The decision of the Minister to approve the MDA did not violate the Ktunaxa’s freedom of religion guaranteed under s. 2(a) of the “Charter”. The Minister did not breach his duty to consult and accommodate under s. 35.”
“The project can now continue under the terms of its Master Development Agreement,” said Tommaso Oberti, Vice President of the Pheidias Group, the project’s lead consultant. “We will be continuing with a project that falls under the 2,000 bed-unit and other threshold of the Environmental Assessment Act.”
Following an unprecedented 23-year long approval process, limited zoning and land leases for the resort were granted on August 20, 2014 and construction began immediately thereafter. Environmental preconditions were met and a permanent access bridge, foundations for a day lodge, service building and a chairlift were constructed as permitted. Construction was halted on October 12, 2014 due to the deadline imposed by the project’s environmental assessment certificate, issued in October 2004.
On June 18, 2015 Minister Mary Polak declared that the then 5,500 bed-unit resort’s environmental certificate had expired, as in her mind it did not meet the “substantially started” threshold required by the Environmental Assessment Act by the October 12, 2014 deadline. This decision is under judicial review.
In the meantime, the resort will proceed with an amended Master Plan that will fall under the thresholds of the Environmental Assessment Act. Construction of the resort will continue as soon as the amendment process is completed.
The resort is being built in the Jumbo Valley at 1,700 meters elevation and the ski lifts will reach Jumbo Mountain at 3,437 meters elevation, the highest in Canada.
Glacier Resorts continues to appreciate the leadership and friendship of the Shuswap Indian Band, who have shown the way of cooperation, which may help pave the way to a cooperative future with the Ktunaxa Nation as well.