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NDP MLA Anderson says the dissolution of the Municipality of Jumbo Glacier is a win for people, environment

The Jumbo Glacier area is one of the largest remaining swathes of land in B.C. without paved roads and is important habitat for many species, including grizzlies. — Photo courtesy qatmuk.com

The Mountain Resort Municipality of Jumbo Glacier is no more.

In a media release Tuesday, the NDP Government said it took the step to dissolve the municipality in the Legislature with changes to Bill 26.

“People across the Kootenays and the Ktunaxa Nation fought the development of Jumbo from the start, and today’s announcement is a win shared by everyone who worked so hard to keep Jumbo wild,” said Brittny Anderson, NDP MLA for Nelson-Creston in a media release.

“From the beginning, Jumbo was a clear example of disregard by the BC Liberals for the environment and surrounding communities.

“Our government is dissolving the fake municipality, and finally putting an end to this saga.”

Prior to Mountain Resort Municipality of Jumbo Glacier, a municipality could not be created without residents.

However, the BC Liberals changed the legislation to allow the creation of the Mountain Resort Municipality of Jumbo Glacier in 2013.

Anderson said the Liberal government was so brazen as to award grants to a municipality with no residents while then BC Premier Christy Clark appointed mayor and council.

Despite having no residents to benefit from municipal services, Jumbo was slated to receive over $1 million in grants from the BC Liberal government over a five-year period.

In response, the Union of BC Municipalities passed a motion in 2014 opposing the funding of any municipalities without residents.

“This is a huge win for our communities and people across B.C.,” said Anderson. “Jumbo should never have been allowed to proceed to begin with, and the BC Liberals’ intention to appoint their friends and then give them public money reminds us all of what they truly stand for.”

The Jumbo Glacier area is one of the largest remaining swathes of land in B.C. without paved roads and is important habitat for many species, including grizzlies.

The area was protected by the BC NDP, working with the federal government and Ktunaxa Nation, in January 2020 and will be known as Qat’muk, the Ktunaxa name meaning Home of the Grizzly Bear Spirit

Jumbo is the first local government to be dissolved in the province in roughly 100 years.

Anderson said these amendments in the legislation prevent future governments from creating Mountain Resort Municipalities with no residents again.

Background:

  • Jumbo Glacier Resort was a proposed 4-season ski resort encompassing 4 glaciers and including a resort village with 6,500 beds in the remote wilderness of the Jumbo Valley, ~35 km from Invermere, BC. It was initially proposed in 1991. 
  • The JGMRM was established to facilitate the development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort in 2013. Highly controversial from the beginning, the Regional District of the East Kootenay abdicated the responsibility for land-use decision making on the Jumbo Glacier Resort, asking the province of BC to step in and lead the process. With no mechanism to make local land-use decisions, the BC government amended the Local Government Act, allowing the creation of a municipality without a population, creating the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality, and appointing a mayor and council to oversee the town without people. 
  • The creation of the JGMRM faced widespread opposition, including from the Union of BC Municipalities
  • The Jumbo Valley and surrounding Purcell Mountains are critical habitat for grizzly bears; a large-scale development like the Jumbo Glacier Resort would have fragmented a transboundary wildlife corridor that connects grizzlies across Western North America. 
  • The Ktunaxa Nation's Qat’muk Declaration proclaims the cultural and ecological importance of the Jumbo Valley, home to Kⱡawⱡa Tukⱡuⱡakʔis, the grizzly bear spirit. 
  • The fight to defend Qat’muk/Jumbo from the proposed resort is the feature of the 2015 Patagonia documentary “Jumbo Wild”. A resulting petition with 65,000 signatures supporting the Qat’muk Declaration was delivered to the Ktunaxa Nation and the BC government in 2017. 
  • In 2019, the Ktunaxa Nation, BC Government and Canada announced a partnership to create the Qat’muk Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area.