Common Sense Canadian
 

Undemocratic Jumbo Resort Threatens Kootenay Grizzly Bears

2
Posted November 26, 2012 by Rafe Mair in Species At Risk
Photo of Jumbo Glacier by Trevor Florence

The Jumbo Ski Resort planned for the Purcell Mountains has been approved by the provincial government, which has put in place legislation for the area to become a municipality.

The setting up of a municipality is so the government will have someone to work with as the various permits are dealt with (which is Liberalese for “approved”).

The irony, nay hypocrisy, of this seems to have been lost in the debate. This is nothing short of gerrymandering, for there already is a municipality to deal with – namely the several communities in the Kootenays which will be affected by this project This is a refinement of gerrymandering.

This technique came about when a Massachusetts governor, Elbridge Gerry, redrew an election district to suit his political needs. It looked like a salamander so the term gerrymandering entered the political lexicon.

At least there were real people living in Gerry’s new bounderies.

The obvious question here is, do people in the vicinity of developments have any say in the matter? They will be just as involved in, say, Nelson, as if the development were inside their city boundaries  – yet they have nothing to say on whether or not the project should be approved.

Well, not quite nothing, as we shall see.

This is eerily similar to the Ashlu River private power project in the mid-2000s. The proposal was to develop a dam on the river and make electricity. One of the main opponents was Tom Rankin, a rancher through whose property the Ashlu flows. Tom went on to form the Save Our Rivers Society, for which Damien Gillis and I worked the 2009 provincial election.

The regional district held public hearings around the district and learned that the various communities massively opposed this project. The Regional District voted down the proposal 8-1, so the Campbell government passed an amendment to the Municial Act, known as Bill 30, eliminating the right of any municipality to deny a private power licence.

Incidentally, it is of interest to know about the Ashlu that environmentalists claimed that it would – forgive the techical term – bugger up the fish runs returning to spawn.

The company stoutly denied this.

It turned out that the environmentalists were spot on – a marvelous salmon river all but gone.

Now, I alluded (above) that the public will have a chance to say their piece. They will – there will be public meetings to find out what environmental safeguards should be put in place.

The public will have no say as to whether or not there should be the development in the first place – thanks to the Campbell/Clark government the project is a “done deal”.

The opposition to this development is not all from tree huggers by any means. In fact, the diminishing grizzly bears will be further diminished by this project as will other wildlife.

Indeed, government scientists have spoken on this:

“The proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort has the potential for substantial and direct cumulative impacts to the Central Purcell Grizzly Bear population.”
– BC Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection, 2004

“…there will be a substantial impact to grizzly bear habitat effectiveness, mortality risk, and most importantly, the fragmentation of grizzly bear distribution…”
– Matt Austin, Large Carnivore Specialist, Biodiversity Branch, Government of B.C

Nothing anyone can say – not even the most prominent scientists in the world can make a difference – the project has been approved and the appropriate municipality set up, all nice and legal-like.

There is an election coming up in May and what the people are entitled to know is whether or not the NDP would restore to local bodies the right to be heard and listened to when large projects with sensitive environmental issues are involved.

Over to you, Mr Dix.


About the Author

Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe continues to make regular appearances on radio and television, writes regularly for thetyee.ca, and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

2 Comments


  1.  
    Michael Gilfillan

    Good job of hilighting the obstinate attitude of the current liberal gov’t as regards development. They cannot be accused of not knowing on which side their bread is buttered.

    This mega resort is a bad idea (for the majority of us) for so many reasons; however, money talks, and in the language our provincial gov’t clearly understands.

    The one chance the public will have to take non-direct action on this is the upcoming prov. election. I too would like to here from the candidates on this in clear language.




  2.  

    There seems to be a pocket mentality in this province. Especially where wildlife is concerned. Not too many years ago a town was created in the wilderness for the same reasons. There was some talk around the blackbear population. The town of Whistler was created anyway. As the population grew so did the incidents of maulings, garbage disruption and culling (killing) of the bear population.
    If you don’t encroach on the bears territory you won’t have to kill them. Wake up folks.





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