Dear Editor,

Jumbo Valley remains wild thanks to the efforts of Kootenay residents who over the past 17 years have delivered a clear message to governments, at all levels, that they care about this place and do not want to see resort development in the heart of the Purcells.

Recent allegations by both Glacier Resort’s representative Grant Costello and MLA Bill Bennett deserve a response.

Grant Costello has continued to claim that the attempt at roading and lift installation on Farnham Glacier were an attempt to help the “children of the Kootenays” to have ski access. Wildsight and Jumbo Creek Conservation Society met with representatives of the Calgary Olympic Development Committee during the time that Kootenay residents blockaded Glacier Resort’s access. At no time were any athletes deterred from participation in CODA’s training facility. Further, we were assured by CODA that Glacier Resort’s proposed road and lift had nothing to do with their operations, and should the proposed lift have become operable, it would not have served the purposes of CODA’s training facility. Not only did athletes pass freely through the blockade, but leading coaches and athletes expressed support for the blockade and efforts to maintain Jumbo free of commercial development. Despite claims from Glacier Resorts that road work was finished, their equipment was pulled out well before a passable road was completed. All that was accomplished was significant damage to the alpine environment by the “cat track” that scraped through the alpine and the headwaters of Farnham Creek. If MOTSA and Work Safe BC responses to Wildsight’s questions in early August are accurate, this work was initiated with no advance notice to the public or even government officials.

Meanwhile, MLA Bennett continues to demonstrate how out of touch he is with his constituents. Unfortunately, Bennett appears to be contradicting his own government’s promise for a local decision on Jumbo. With regards to the local decision, he was recently quoted in the Invermere Valley Echo as saying,”Why did the province do that. I think there was a lack of understanding.” It appears Bennett consistently fails to understand how strongly people feel about the ability of Kootenay residents to chart their own course for development of the backcountry. It is unfortunate if the new Minister of Tourism is more focused on selling BC to outside investors than on the wishes of his own constituents in the Kootenays who have repeatedly and overwhelmingly stated that Jumbo Resort is inappropriate. We appreciate the Campbell government’s commitment to a local decision and expect that provincial decisions that most affect Kootenay residents will reflect their wish to chart the future of the area.

It is also baffling that Bennett spoke in support of the ill conceived attempts by Glacier Resorts in Farnham Creek while his government was supposedly in good faith discussions with the Ktunaxa Nation in regard to development. Mr. Bennett appeared to believe he could ignore Ktunaxa interests as well as the most credible wildlife/grizzly bear science available — information that representatives of his own ministry are well aware contradict the misinformation used in the environmental approval.

As to Mr. Bennet’s statement quoted in the Invermere Valley Echo, “Wildsight is very, very organized and effective, but they’re not honest,” I challenge Mr. Bennett to demonstrate where our information on Jumbo has strayed from the truth.

Finally, Mr. Bennett was earlier quoted in the Cranbrook Townsman and Kimberley Bulletin, stating that the development must go ahead or the government would be bowing to the wishes of “undemocratic despots.” I guess that would make me an “undemocratic despot.” I guess that would make the moms, dads, children, businesses, groups and Kootenay residents who support a wild Jumbo “undemocratic despots.” It would certainly make the electorate of RDEK Area F, who have already voted overwhelmingly to keep Jumbo wild, “undemocratic despots.”

I’d like to thank all those “undemocratic despots” who have continued to voice their opinion and show their support. It’s everyday people like them who have helped to keep Jumbo wild and they deserve commendation, and most importantly, respect.

For the wild,
John Bergenske, Executive Director, Wildsight

Leave a comment

Comments are closed.

Related Stories