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Ski resort in avalanche path, NDP leader says

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by Russell Hixson

B.C. opposition leader John Horgan is urging officials to withdraw Jumbo Glacier Resort's environmental permit, arguing that work being done on the resort is in a dangerous avalanche zone.
Ski resort in avalanche path, NDP leader says

The proposed project would sit at the foot of Jumbo Mountain and Jumbo Glacier - 53 km west of Invermere, B.C., on a former sawmill site. The resort would provide lift-serviced access to four nearby glaciers at an elevation of up to3,419 metres.

The resort is planned in three phases to include 5,500 bed-units (plus 750 beds for staff accommodations) in a 110 hectare resort base area.

On Nov. 4, Horgan blasted the project at the B.C. Legislative Assembly, government transcripts show. He argued that the foundation for a lodge that's been poured is in a class four avalanche zone – enough to destroy a railway car, large truck, several buildings and forests up to four hectares.

"Jumbo Glacier Resort specifically committed to ensure that their residential and commercial structures were located completely outside avalanche zones," Horgan said. "The Minister of Energy knows about avalanches. He said not that long ago there are 10,000 to 15,000 avalanches a year in British Columbia."

Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Ministry spokeswoman Vivian Thomas disagreed with Horgan.

"The lodge is actually 56 metres away from the avalanche run-out area and its location was considered during the assessment process," she said in a phone interview.

Jumbo Glacier Resorts had been rushing to prove it had a substantial completion on the project by Oct. 12, when its environmental assessment certificate expired.

Environment Minister Mary Polak explained to Horgan that she and experts visited the site and viewed construction progress Jumbo Mountain had made to help decide if she would issue another certificate. She said she would render her decision after consulting the First Nations in the area.

"It would be completely inappropriate for me to comment on any of the details of that at this stage of the process," she said in response to Horgan's request for her to deny another certificate.

AECOM is doing the civil engineering on the project and Golder Associates is the geotechnical consultant.

In 1990, a Japanese company commissioned a study to locate and establish a ski resort in North America. The study ultimately located Jumbo Mountain and the Jumbo Creek Valley access as the best area suitable for the development of a year-round mountain and ski resort, citing its available access, climate,  appropriate elevations, the availability of glaciers, the prior use of the valley and conformity with government policies.

On March 20, 2012, the Province signed a master development agreement signalling the final approval of the Jumbo Glacier Resort project.

It also completed a 21-year long approval process, including four major public review processes.

A formal proposal was submitted and accepted in 1991.

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