After years of debate over a proposed ski area in British Columbia, the future of Jumbo Glacier Resort remains undecided. The planned ski area is simply massive, with 14,640 skiable acres (Whistler/Blackcomb is 8,171 skiable acres), 23 chairlifts spanning four different glaciers, 5,627 vertical feet of skiing, and 2,300 vertical feet of summer skiing on Jumbo Glacier. The scale, fiscal feasibility, and environmental impact of the project has been debated for years, especially given that the full build-out of the project would require 20 years of construction activity at an estimated cost of almost one billion dollars. Now, environment minister Mary Polak holds the future of Jumbo in her hands, as she must decide whether to renew the project's environmental certificate or not.
The plans for Jumbo Glacier Resort include a base village of 5,500 beds on 272 acres. Currently, the glacier is used mainly by Canadian skiers who tour in to access a backcountry hut or go heli-skiing, and at one time it was used by Canadian race teams to train on the glacier in the summer.
Despite decades of drama (head over here for a good timeline), the project has yet to get off the ground. The latest obstacle for developers surrounds questions over whether the base ski lodge is being built in an avalanche zone. And to date, little work has been completed. In October, just days before a provincial environmental certificate was set to expire that would essentially end all hopes for the ski area, proponents from Glacier Resort Ltd. built the preliminary foundation for the ski lodge.
In order for the environmental certificate to be renewed, "substantive" construction must have begun before the October deadline. Critics argue that a $50,000 foundation doesn't count as "substantive" construction on a billion dollar project.
Mary Polak is expected to announce her decision on Jumbo's environmental certificate in the coming weeks. And if plans for Jumbo continue to move forward, developers claim they can have the resort open by December 2016. Given the project's 23-year history and the fact that proponents have yet to name a major investor, that timeline seems optimistic at best.
· Big questions remain around Jumbo ski resort [Pique]
· Jumbo Glacier Resort building $1B ski lodge in dangerous avalanche zone, B.C. New Democrats say [National Post]
· A Jumbo Saga [Powder]
· British Columbia's Proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort [Curbed Ski]
· Color Us Jealous: Early Season Powder at Whistler Blackcomb [Curbed Ski]
· Which Ski Resort Has The Most Skiing in North America? [Curbed Ski]
· Could Whistler Area Get New Backcountry Ski Area? [Curbed Ski]