After two decades, a proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort in the East Kootenays of British Columbia continues to be controversial among local communities. Now, a documentary about the campaign against the resort highlights the problems the resort could pose to the mountainous landscape.
When the Jumbo Glacier Resort was originally proposed in the 1990s, it was approved under the Environmental Assessment Act of the Province of British Columbia. The resort would feature lifts up to 3,419 metres (11,217 feet) and more than 6,000 beds. It would be the only ski resort in North America to be open year round.
For the fifteen companies behind the project, the resort could rake tens of millions of dollars into the region annually. But many people in local communities think that the project would be a disaster.There are already a number of ski resorts in the nearby mountains, providing opportunities to participate in the sport.
— Wilderness Supply (@wsupply_wpg) January 8, 2016
“The problem runs deeper than environmental concerns: there’s a real sense that the Jumbo resort will rip the heart from one of the most cherished wilderness areas in the East Kootenays,” Andrew Findlay, a Canadian journalist, wrote in a blog post. Opponents of the project say that it would desecrate indigenous lands occupied by First Nations long before European settlement, but the issue is complex. The Shuswap First Nations Band, the community that lives closest to the glacier, approved the project for the economic opportunities it could bring, while the Ktunaxa First Nation is against the idea. For the Ktunaxa people, the resort would tear a hole in the middle of grizzly bear territory. Grizzly bears, who hold spiritual significance for the Ktunaxa, are threatened. Environmentalists are also concerned about the effects a large resort would have on the species. Individual bears need as much as 1,000 square kilometers of range, but the resort would fragment that range for many bears.
Come to @Alliance_Center 1/20 to see #JumboWild, incredible film on fight for #publiclands! https://t.co/HLlH7U34lr pic.twitter.com/MoveVmMYLq — ConservationColorado (@ConservationCO) January 10, 2016
Environmentalists, First Nations, local communities and skiers say they will continue to fight against the Jumbo Glacier Resort. Last year, Canada’s Environment Minister Mary Polak said the project had not sufficiently advanced. Glacier Resorts, Ltd., the company behind the project, will have to apply for a new environmental certificate in order to continue, she added.
The announcement was a victory for the 90 percent of people from the area who oppose the project. For now, they can continue to visit the Jumbo Glacier — relatively free of human development.
“In the midst of Jumbo you feel like a really small person,” said Leah Evans, a skier who has visited the Jumbo Glacier since she was 14, in the Jumbo Wild documentary. “When you tune into that silence, you become part of the landscape. It’s like a part of you is waking up.”
Watch the trailer here: