Yesterday, more than 120 people were on hand at the Farnham Creek road blockade. Members of the Ktunaxa Nation and East Kootenay citizens from all walks of life came together to celebrate the blockade’s early success and send a clear message to the developer and government: We do not accept the lack of transparency by both the government and developer in regard to the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.

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The Farnham blockade was put in place soon after local residents realized that proponents of the Jumbo Resort development were pushing road into the alpine with the intent of building a temporary ski lift. Road building equipment has since been removed from the alpine near East Farnham Glacier. Supporters of a wild Jumbo enjoyed an initial victory at the blockade site with Ktunaxa Nation members including a friendship dances, speeches and a celebratory cake.

“We were happy that so many people could make the long trip up to the blockade site,” said Dave Quinn, a Wildsight program manager. “Jumbo Wild supporters were delighted at the removal of the heavy equipment—and heartened to have Ktunaxa people by our side calling for more open communication from the Ministry about the Farnham development. We were all shocked when the road started going in.”

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East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett is the recently-appointed Minister of of Tourism, Culture and the Arts. It is his ministry that administers the Jumbo portfolio. He has stated that the resort proponent, Glacier Resorts Ltd., was within its legal rights to build the road, citing a 1993 license of occupation.

This stance doesn’t hold much water with Wildsight—or with the Ktunaxa Nation, who are fed up with the confusion and lack of transparency around the Jumbo issue. A Ktunaxa Nation press release dated August 12, 2008 says: “Recently there have been attempts by the proponent, Glacier Resorts Ltd., to build a roadway and lift to the Farnham Glacier using a license for the purpose of sight-seeing and alpine skiing. This license of occupation was arbitrarily transferred from the previous holder, Calgary Olympic Development Association to Glacier Resorts Ltd. with no consultation with the Ktunaxa Nation. The Ktunaxa Nation also did not receive any referrals from the government regarding the development of a road or lift in the Farnham Glacier, as is required by law. . . The rally’s goal is to draw attention to the government’s lack of transparency in the Farnham Glacier developments.”

Supporters of Jumbo Wild, including Wildsight and the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society, echo this call for the B.C. Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and the Arts to provide full disclosure on all decisions relating to the tenure and the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.

Ktunaxa Nation Chair, Chief Sophie Pierre, attended the rally. She said: “We are both surprised and deeply disappointed at the lack of open communication from the Ministry about the Farnham developments and its implication. For a road and lift development to happen through the back door at this juncture shows disrespect for the process by both the Ministry and Glacier Resorts Ltd.”

Quinn was quick to note that recent statements by the resort proponent that the road was being put in to provide skiing for Kootenay amateur athletes is a red herring.

“This assault on the alpine is not about skiing and is not about children or Kootenay amateur athletes as the Jumbo developers erroneously claim,” he said. “The existing Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) training camp on the East Farnham Glacier is open for all amateur athletes with coaches to apply for training. The people on the blockade have maintained a positive relationship with CODA and their operations have continued as usual. CODA representatives have stated clearly that this attempt by developers to build road and a lift are not in support of CODA’s program.”

Quinn said that after nearly 20 years of controversy, Jumbo Wild supporters look forward to the tenure being revoked—“and to the entire ill-conceived proposal being dropped for good.”

He cautions that however long the controversy remains, “Jumbo Wild supporters are energized to carry on. It’s time for the Province to kill this ridiculous proposal once and for all.”

For more information
Dave Quinn, Program Manager
Mobile telephone 250.427.8878

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