Here Comes Jumbo. B.C. Government Gives Green Light
It’s taken 20 years of talks, comprehensive and, some would say, exhaustive reviews, but the British Columbia government has finally cleared the way for development of the uber controversial Jumbo Glacier Alpine Resort.
Jumbo will be Canada’s first year-round glacier-based ski resort. It is planned to be a $1 billion playground just 57 kilometers (35 miles) west of Invermere, B.C. in the Purcell Mountains.
The resort was first proposed in the early 1990s. But, the project stalled out on final approval, even though it had passed all regulatory and environmental reviews.
"I approved Jumbo Glacier Resort's master development agreement after reviewing all of the relevant documentation, and meeting with both First Nations and the proponent," said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations, in a statement.
The project is expected to attract $900 million in investments and create 750 permanent jobs.
Jumbo will feature up to 23 lifts, a 3,000-metre-high gondola, and a ski village with more than 6,000 units when completed. That makes it comparable, size-wise, to Silver Star and about 1/10th the size of Whistler Blackcomb.
Architect Oberto Oberti says he hopes to have Jumbo’s first phase up and running within two years. "The first phase of this project is not too different from the first phase of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, which we constructed in one summer," he said. "Things could be done faster, but considering a lot of things, I think two years is a reasonable target."
Jumbo has been controversial from the start and the decision to go forward quickly re-ignited the debate.
"People in the Columbia Valley have been absolutely clear. They feel strongly that building a resort in this area does not make sense," said Columbia River-Revelstoke NDP MLA Norm MacDonald in a statement released Tuesday morning. "It doesn't make sense environmentally or economically, and putting the B.C. Liberal stamp of approval on it doesn't change a thing."
Many are worried about the environment impact on the grizzly bear population. The government has countered that the Ministry will establish a wildlife management area to protect the grizzly bear habitat.
Supporters argue that the jobs the project will bring to the region may be the biggest benefit to the green light.
Still, the financing is not yet in place. A business delegation recently flew to France to attract investors and they expect some of those potential financiers to visit B.C. shortly.
What It Means: Finally, a decision. A year-round glacier-based ski resort is exciting for skiers and riders in Canada and the U.S. Invermere is a small community of about 4,000 near the Alberta border in eastern B.C. It swells to 40,000 on summer weekends, so will likely jump to large numbers in the winter, too. If you live in Calgary, for example, what a deal.
Photo Jumbo Glacier Alpine Resort, B.C. Courtesy CBC News