The debate over the potential development of the Jumbo Glacier continues as B.C. New Democratic Party leader Adrian Dix has once again stated he is against the project going forward.
Dix explained the a recent press release the stated he was openly against the project just reaffirmed an opinion he has held for some time.
“I was at a rally in Nelson not long ago on the issue so we have been speaking out on it for some time. Our MLA’s in the area have been pretty clear as have our constituents that the project doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make economic sense for the region and it doesn’t make environmental sense,” Dix said while adding, “I think it does point to a problem in the process that we are now 18 years into it and there are still uncertainty about the government’s intentions.”
When asked why he felt the project has taken so long to make a final decision Dix said, “I think it is a mystery really. I think what would be required is a massive investment of public funds and the disruption to the environment and economy of the region. When they had the last environmental process approximately 90 percent of local residents were against the project.”
The idea of having to invest infrastructure in the project is one that Dix and Jumbo Glacier Resort Ltd. VP, Grant Costello do not agree on.
“If you are going to make a massive investment of infrastructure there are wiser decisions. The reality is that we are looking at a massive public investment that will have significant cost, environmental and otherwise,” Dix said.
Costello on the other hand said that the money going into the project was coming from the investment group and not the government.
“He is talking about our money. What right does the leader of the opposition have to tell our investors how to spend their money?,” Costello said. “ Adrian Dix knows absolutely zero about any of the fundamentals of this project. Nor does he obviously know any of his parties history with this project dating back to 1991.
Costello explained that the NDP government under former premier Mike Harcourt supported the proposal and encouraged investors to go ahead with the project.
“His party initiated a commission on the resources and environment which was a large scale planning exercise that took place in the Kootenays, where our project representatives sat at the core table where the conclusions were that the Jumbo lands were fundamentally a resort and recreational area,” Costello said.
Costello went on to explain it was the NDP who while in power in the mid 1990’s brought forward an environmental assessment process that was studied the project for nine years.
“Is he saying he doesn’t believe the process that his party established through the environmental act?,” Costello said.
Dix said in his opinion many people do not see the plan of putting thousands of people up on a glacier as a practical choice. He went on to say that tourism and the forestry were two areas which should be invested in to continue growth in the region.
“The government itself has been fairly incoherent on this over time. I think they recognize the economic and environmental issues of the project...I think it is time to look at other options,” Dix said. Dix went on to explain that he does not feel the project would go ahead on a practical level.
“I do think it would be healthy to move on,” Dix said.
The final approval for the project was in 2007 when the master plan was approved and the representatives for the resort have already put their signature on an agreement according to Costello.
“We are waiting for the action which is the completion of the process by the minister signing the contract,” Costello said.
Costello said this signature was only thing that the group was waiting for other than the “Government dithering with First Nations.”
Costello did not think the comments by Dix would have any effect on the final hurdles being completed.
“I don’t think that the fact that Adrian Dix has chosen to speak on this at this point has and relevancy on this whatsoever,” Costello said. “They know that we are working towards the final action and of course that are going to pile on against it.”