VANCOUVER BC – The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) today dismissed an appeal by the Ktunaxa Nation Council. In that appeal the Ktunaxa sought to overturn earlier BC Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decisions that upheld the Master Development Agreement (MDA) between Glacier Resorts Ltd. and the Province of British Columbia for the development of Jumbo Glacier Resort, a year-round glacier sightseeing and skiing resort located in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia.
Glacier Resorts Ltd. is very pleased that the ruling has brought an end to the long delays to the project due to the Ktunaxa’s appeal. Arnold Armstrong, Chairman of the Board, says, “The project can now move forward. We seek to work in a cooperative spirit and believe that the common good and the beauty of the project will ultimately bring people together.”
The Ktunaxa’s appeal was based on a spiritual connection to the Jumbo Valley. The Ktunaxa did not claim aboriginal title to the land.
According to SCC Chief Justice McLachlin, “The Minister’s decision does not violate the Ktunaxa’s s. 2 (a) Charter right to freedom of religion. In this case, the Ktunaxa’s claim does not fall within the scope of s. 2 (a) because neither the Ktunaxa’s freedom to hold their beliefs nor their freedom to manifest those beliefs is infringed by the Minister’s decision to approve the project.”
Chief Justice McLachlin explained that should the appeal have been granted, “a religious group would therefore be able to regulate the use of a vast expanse of public land so that it conforms to its religious belief,” which would be contrary to the Minister’s statutory mandate.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s judgment can be found here: https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/16816/index.do