Opinions & Letters

Jumbo mistake

 | June 6, 2012

Publisher's Note
While I usually try to comment, or as some people say “rant,” about things closer to home, I can’t pass up this opportunity to venture a little farther afield. With the recent announcement by the B.C. Liberal Party regarding the “go ahead” for Jumbo Glacier Resort, I really have to shake my head and ask if this is for real?

In the planning stage for over 20 years, Jumbo now has the green light from the Provincial government to go ahead with their Master Development Plan.

Located 53 kilometres outside Invermere, B.C., Jumbo Glacier Resort is planned to be a $900 million, year round ski resort with up to 1,400 condos (5,500 bed units) and 23 lifts spanning four enormous glaciers. Skiers would access 5,600 vertical feet of skiing in the winter and 2,300 vertical feet in the summer. While it sounds like a grand and ambitious plan, what’s the reality of this actually coming to fruition, let alone making any money?

Firstly, the Province has sat on this one for over 20 years and now, when faced with its lowest support ever, the Liberals are giving the green light to this massively unpopular undertaking. While the Shuswap Indian Band signed a benefits agreement in 2008, supporting the resort in concept, there are now numerous other First Nations vehemently opposed to it. In the Kootenays, 91 per cent of those polled opposed the plan. In addition to that, the Regional District of East Kootenay will also have to re-zone the area to allow it to move forward and now current and former Canadian Olympians and many others have jumped on the “Stop Jumbo” bandwagon.

Forget for a moment the pros and cons of the proposed year round skiing, the grizzly bear habitat, the First Nation claims, and the very vocal opposition from many sides and ask yourself this simple question: Does British Columbia actually need another ski resort?

Clearly those who are involved in the ski resort business in B.C. understand how tough it is these days to fill beds and put bums on chairlifts while trying to turn a profit, and yet these guys want to spend $900 million to put lifts sky high on a shrinking glacier in the middle of nowhere and expect it to make money. I guess they haven’t yet heard of that overused tag phrase “global warming.”

The fact is that glaciers around the globe are melting faster than the wicked witch of the west and yet the Jumbo developers still want to go ahead with their plan. Am I missing something or did these folks fail to make the grade in “Development 101”? You can spend all you want to build ski resorts on the moon but if you can’t fill your beds or lifts with paying guests then you might as well build a $900 million fast ferry to replace the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver.

The stark reality is that B.C. now has way more chairlift capacity than it does people to fill that capacity and skier/boarder visits are level at best. Yet the Jumbo folks still plan to move ahead.
The only people I see smiling at this deal is the NDP, because it’s stupid decisions like this that will likely get them re-elected.

Thanks for nothing Christy and crew.