Grizzlies or gondolas? 

Jumbo Glacier resort proponent ready to submit final report to B.C. government

The heated debate over the proposed Jumbo Glacier Alpine Resort near Invermere, B.C., is about to blow up again after laying dormant for the past two years.

The resort proponent, Vancouver-based Pheidias Project Management Corp., is on the cusp of submitting a long-awaited final project report to the provincial government's environmental assessment review committee.

"We are getting ready to present a draft project report," said Pheidias president Oberto Oberti. "We hope this process will be concluded soon."

Once the report is submitted, the proposed $500-million four-season Jumbo resort will go through a public review process before the provincial cabinet makes a decision on the project.

But the resort could be road-blocked by environmentalists who are opposed to the development.

"Contrary to widespread belief, the mega-resort development proposal is not dead," said Jumbo Creek Conservation Society director Bob Campsall.

The Jumbo proposal, which includes a 7,000-bed-unit alpine resort village, has been on hold since 1999 due to delays by Oberti and his company in producing the final report.

According to Campsall, the project will have a negative effect on local grizzly and mountain goat populations; the region's glaciers; and other nearby resorts and heli-ski operations.

Roger Madson, the owner of R.K. Heli-Skiing, has said he will be put out of business if the Jumbo resort is OK'd.

Intrawest-owned Panorama Mountain Village, located between Invermere and the proposed resort, has not commented on the development.

Campsall also said a feasibility study has shown that the resort would not be economically viable.

But Oberti has refuted all the various accusations.

"When the public (is) exposed to balanced views allowing for real information to be explained, they will know there is no reason to fear the project," Oberti told the Invermere Valley Echo newspaper. "The project will continue to present the only opportunity in North America for seeing glaciers from the top and skiing on them in the summer."

Environmentalists have been using the rallying cry of "Grizzlies or gondolas?" since the resort, located about 55 kilometres northwest of Invermere in the Purcell Mountains, was first proposed in 1991.

The proposal has been tied up in the provincial environmental assessment process since 1995.

The proposed $500-million Cayoosh resort development, located near Melvin Creek on the Duffey Lake Road, underwent the same process before it was given an environmental certificate last year by B.C.'s former NDP government.

But the Cayoosh resort has since been bogged down by native land claims and development has been shelved until the issue can be resolved.

Oberti was also the original proponent behind the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort development in Golden, B.C.

That new resort, a $30-million expansion of an existing community ski hill, was opened last winter.


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