The problems are piling up for the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort in southeastern British Columbia. The controversial plans call for a massive new resort 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. A few months ago, the British Columbian Environmental Assessment Office told developers that two buildings weren't in compliance with avalanche safety guidelines. Now, the ski area will have to start from scratch in gaining environmental approval after the environment ministry determined the project had not been substantially started before its certificate expired.
Months ago, environmentalists touted the avalanche-path violation as a major blow to a project that has seen decades of delays. But developer and co-owner Oberto Oberti told Pique Magazine that this was only a "minor hiccup" that would require an amendment.
But it's hard to see how Jumbo is going to come back from this latest challenge. In October 2014, just days before a provincial environmental certificate was set to expire, Glacier Resort built the preliminary foundation for the ski lodge. But in order for the environmental certificate to be renewed, "substantive" construction must have begun before the October deadline. Critics argued that a $50,000 foundation doesn't count as "substantive" construction on a billion dollar project.
Now, it looks like Environment Minister Mary Polak agrees. The resort received its first environmental certificate in 2004. It was extended in 2009 with an expiry date of October 12, 2014. According to government documents, Phase 1 of the project was supposed to include a Glacier Dome gondola, two chairlifts in Jumbo Valley, a mountaintop refuge, a base day lodge, a main resort day lodge, bed and breakfast establishments, 30 townhouse condominiums and 25 chalets.
When making her decision, Polak visited the site on October 11 to find minimal construction. She said, "I compared what was present with what was planned. In this case it was not difficult to find that when you compared the work that had been done, it was very minimal compared to the original Phase 1 plan or even what might be considered for opening a resort."
If Jumbo Glacier Resort is going to be kept alive after the latest decision, Polak said "They'd have to resubmit a project. It would be as though they had never been through an assessment before."
But the intrepid Oberti is allegedly not calling it quits. According to the Vancouver Sun, Oberti and company are reviewing the decision and "considering options." "There are many balls in the air, from an appeal to litigation to a new application, or a request for an amendment to the original environmental certificate," he said. "Jumbo Glacier Resort would be the premier ski destination on the continent, and the recent poor winter showed us why, in the age of global warming, new ski resorts should be built at appropriate elevations and in the right climate zones."
So will Jumbo Glacier Resort attempt a new application? Only time will tell. But based on a Curbed Ski poll, almost no one wants Jumbo to happen. It looks like this could finally be the death knell of this long-debated project.
· Jumbo Glacier Resort project on hold after environmental certificate expires [Vancouver Sun]
· The Results Are In: No One Wants Jumbo Glacier Resort [Curbed Ski]
· Proposed $1 Billion Jumbo Glacier Resort Still May Not Happen [Curbed Ski]
· 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]