Blockade in Farnham Valley
Credit: Dave Quinn
Yesterday, CBC news reported that the B.C. government had finally approved development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort, a project that's been heavily debated for 20 years now.

"On Tuesday morning, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson announced that final obstacle had been cleared and the ski resort was approved by the province.

'After more than 20 years of comprehensive and exhaustive reviews, it was time to make a decision. I approved Jumbo Glacier Resort's master development agreement after reviewing all of the relevant documentation, and meeting with both First Nations and the proponent,' said Thomson in a statement.

The province says the project will attract $900 million in investment and create 750 permanent jobs."

Critics of the Jumbo Glacier Resort are many, and most of them are First Nations groups and environmentalists. According to the Province: "Ktunaxa First Nation council chair Kathryn Teneese said the site, called Qat'muk, is 'a pristine glacier of great significance. If this resort, with massive negative impacts goes ahead, we as a people will be forever changed.'"

In the same article, New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix is quoted as saying the resort "doesn't meet any economic tests, will cause real damage to the ecosystem and is opposed by First Nations." Wilderness Committee spokesman Joe Foy is also quoted, "saying the mega-resort will damage wildlife habitat, including an important grizzly bear range."

Back in our Winter 2008 issue, Christie McLaren wrote about why people are so opposed to the Jumbo Glacier Resort. She addressed both First Nations and environmentalist concerns, as well as the dwindling number of skiers and receding glaciers in Canada:

"Opponents of Jumbo Glacier Resort wonder how the resort would survive in the winter, let alone year-round, given the twin spectres of global warming and an aging population that might mean a smaller market of skiers.

Already, glaciers in western North America are receding—one estimate from the Columbia Basin Trust found a 15-per-cent shrinkage between 1986 and 2001. A glance at most glaciers these days reveals a far more shallow summer snowpack than in previous decades.

At the same time, skier numbers appear to be dropping. The Canadian Ski Council has predicted a gradual decline in recreational downhill skiing between 2005 and 2020. Already, few of B.C.’s downhill resorts appear to be operating at anything close to maximum capacity. Within a relatively short drive of the Jumbo Valley are nearly a dozen major ski resorts that offer some of the best powder and biggest vertical drops in North America. They include Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, Fernie Alpine Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort, Panorama Mountain Village, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, and just across the border in Alberta, Mount Norquay, Sunshine Ski Resort and Lake Louise. Together, they can process close to 100,000 skiers per hour. But most of the time, to the delight of local skiers and riders, these hills are far from full.