The controversial and people-less Jumbo Glacier municipality is one step closer to no longer being a town.
The B.C. Government has introduced Bill 26, which includes measures to dissolve Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality, the province’s only town without a population, and the site of Glacier Resorts Ltd.’s proposed ski resort.
For eight years, the town has had no elected mayor and council. In a statement Tuesday (Oct. 26), Wildsight and Jumbo Wild Lead executive Robyn Duncan called the town’s disolution “the right thing to do.”
Wildsight has run a campaign for three decades to protect Jumbo Valley, alongside a coalition of others including the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society.
“The Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality was an end-run around local democracy and land-use decision making by the former government in a desperate attempt to push forward a mega ski resort proposal that faced strong opposition from the local population, the Ktunaxa Nation, grizzly bear biologists and people all around the world,”Duncan said.
Located around 35 kilometres west of Invermere, the Jumbo Glacier Resort was initially proposed in 1991 and would have been a four-season ski resort covering four glaciers and including a resort village with 4,500 beds.
The municipality was created by the provincial government in 2013 to facilitate development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort, as part of the necessary procedure to approve a Master Development Agreement. Prior to this, a municipality could not be created without residents.
It was controversial from its inception and faced widespread opposition, including from the Union of BC Municipalities.
Surrounded by the Purcell Mountains, the Jumbo Valley is not only an important habitat for grizzly bears and the sight of a transboundary wildlife corridor that connects them across western North America, it is also a sacred place for the Ktunaxa Nation, who know it as Qat’muk, the home of the grizzly bear spirit.
The battle to protect Jumbo was the subject of Patagonia’s 2015 documentary “Jumbo Wild”, which spurred a petition garnering 65,000 signatures to support the Ktunaxa Nation’s Qat’muk Declaration, proclaiming the valley’s cultural and ecological significance.
In January 2020, Glacier Resorts Ltd. announced it relinquished all development rights to the surrounding area after agreements between the provincial and federal governments, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which represented the Ktunaxa Nation.
In a statement released at the time, Celso Boscariol, chairman of Glacier Resorts Ltd. said they recognized the Ktunaxa Nation’s vision to see Jumbo Valley be protected.
After it was decided once and for all that the area was to be protected in 2020, Bill 26 represents the final step in journey of 30 years, Duncan said.
“We can finally leave behind the Jumbo Glacier Resort and move forward in celebration of Ktunaxa leadership for the Qat’muk Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area to steward the cultural and ecological values of this special place.”